Russia created bogus Facebook accounts to spy on French President Emmanuel Macron’s campaign earlier this year, according to a Reuters report.
Around two dozen accounts were created in the names of friends of friends of the French head of state as part of an effort to gather information on the then-candidate, Reuters reported, citing a U.S. congressman and two other sources. While Facebook had previously reported that fake accounts were being generated to spread misinformation, this was the first report of an infiltration so close to the candidate.
The anonymous sources noted that the hacking was traced back to the GRU, Russia’s largest foreign intelligence agency—the same unit that was blamed for the hacking of the DNC during the 2016 US Presidential election.
According to the report, 70,000 accounts were suspended over the course of the French election for “promoting propaganda or spam.”
Facebook reportedly confirmed that it had been alerted to and deactivated the fake accounts. But in an era when fake news and bots dominate the headlines, Facebook is under increasing scrutiny for allowing the proliferation of propaganda and misleading information.