By Robert Hackett
August 22, 2018

The Kremlin on Wednesday dismissed claims by Facebook that Russian intelligence has been running disinformation campaigns on the tech giant’s social media sites. “We do not understand what they are based on,” a Kremlin spokesperson said.

A day earlier, Facebook removed 652 “misleading” pages, accounts, and groups it said exhibited “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, said his company believed the politically charged content-pushers were part of two campaigns, one linked to Iran and the other associated with Russian military services.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for the Kremlin, questioned the validity of Facebook’s allegations, and he said that Moscow did not take the accusations seriously.

“We have seen these reports,” Peskov was reported as saying by Sputnik, a Russian government-owned news agency often described as an outlet for propaganda. “We do not understand what it has to do with the Russian intelligence, where did Facebook find this out, on what Facebook based [its assumptions] taking such decisions that it had something to do with us.”

On Tuesday, the same day Facebook disclosed its purge, Twitter and Alphabet took similar action. Twitter eliminated 284 accounts it said were “engaging in coordinated manipulation,” while Google’s YouTube deleted a channel, “Liberty Front Press,” tied to fake Iranian Facebook accounts.

“They are all trying to outdo one another with their statements which all look like carbon copies of one another,” Reuters reported Peskov as saying. “There is no supporting explanation and we do not understand on what they are based,” Peskov added.

Peskov’s statement echoed remarks he made hours earlier about Microsoft after the tech giant exposed another espionage operation it tied to Russia.

“We do not know what kind of hackers Microsoft is referring to, we do not know what the impact on the elections is,” he said, as recorded in a post on the Russian Embassy in the U.S.’s Facebook page. “We do not understand what are the grounds for this, what is Fancy bear, what Russian military intelligence has to do with it, what is the basis for these accusations, rather serious ones, therefore they seem groundless.”

The U.S. Senate has signaled that it is looking to apply harsher economic sanctions to Russia in response to the latest findings.

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