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Facebook removes fake accounts linked to Trump ally Roger Stone

July 8, 2020, 11:00 PM UTC

Facebook said it will remove the accounts and brand pages for Roger Stone, a Republican operative who was convicted of lying to Congress during its investigation into Russian election interference.

The company said when it was investigating the Proud Boys, the far-right hate group that was banned by Facebook in 2018, it found a network of fake accounts posing as residents of Florida. The accounts posted about politics mostly between 2015 and 2017, promoting hacked material from Wikileaks, while also raising the profile of Stone’s books and media appearances.

Coordination by fake accounts violates Facebook’s rules. “Roger Stone’s personal accounts and his branded assets will be coming down as a part of this effort because we saw them deeply enmeshed in the activity here,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in a press briefing.

Stone wrote in a text message that Facebook is fabricating excuses to censor him as part of what he called a broader effort by social media companies to silence U.S. President Donald Trump and other Republicans and conservatives.

“The claim that I have utilized or control unauthorized or fake accounts on any platform is categorically and provably false,” Stone said. “The assertion that my accounts have any formal or informal connection to the Proud Boys is categorically and provably false.”

Stone is scheduled to start a prison term on July 14. He has appealed to Donald Trump to grant him a pardon.

The network linked to Stone involved 54 Facebook accounts, 50 pages and four Instagram accounts, Facebook said in a statement. About 260,000 accounts followed at least one of the pages, and 61,500 followed one or more of the Instagram accounts. The group spent less than $308,000 on Facebook and Instagram advertising.