San Francisco, April 7 Meta said on Thursday that it has removed a network in Russia for abusing its reporting tools to repeatedly report people in Ukraine and in Russia for fictitious policy violations of Facebook policies, in an attempt to silence them.

According to the company, a Belarus-based group attempted to compromise Facebook accounts of Ukrainian military personnel.

It also posted videos from hacked accounts, calling on the Ukrainian army to surrender, Meta said in its inauthentic behaviour policy report.

The hacking campaign, known as “Ghostwriter,” has been linked to the Belarusian government.

“We removed a network of about 200 accounts operated from Russia. The individuals behind it coordinated to falsely report people for various violations, including hate speech, bullying and inauthenticity, in an attempt to have them and their posts removed from Facebook,” said the company.

The majority of these fictitious reports focused on people in Ukraine and Russia, but the network also reported users in Israel, the US, and Poland.

The people behind this activity relied on fake, authentic, and duplicate accounts to submit hundreds – in some cases, thousands – of complaints against their targets through Meta’s abuse reporting tools.

“Many of this network’s accounts were detected and disabled by our automated systems,” said Meta.

The company said that there were attempts by previously disrupted state and non-state actors to come back on the platform, “in addition to spam networks using deceptive tactics to monetise public attention to the ongoing war”.

The company’s first quarterly adversarial threat report also detailed threats across multiple policy violations in Iran, Azerbaijan, South America, and the Philippines.

Russia last month blocked access to Facebook in the country. In response, its parent company Meta paused all ads in Russia.

Russia’s communications agency Roskomnadzor had blocked access to Facebook, citing 26 cases of “discrimination against Russian media and information resources by Facebook” since October 2020.

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