(De)friending in the Baltics: Lessons from Facebook’s Sputnik Crackdown - Foreign Policy Research Institute
On January 17, Facebook shut down more than 350 pages and accounts linked to Russian state-owned media company, Rossiya Segodnya, and its radio and online service, Sputnik. Citing “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the social media monolith nixed the 289 pages and 75 accounts tied to the outlets across the Baltic states, Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Another network of nearly 150 fake Facebook and Instagram accounts originating in Russia, but mostly operating in Ukraine, were also closed.
Accruing audiences based on neutral topics ranging from tourism, to news, medicine, food, and sports, these Sputnik-linked pages and accounts also pushed coordinated Kremlin propaganda to around 800,000 unsuspecting followers with the intent to inorganically inflate their audience and promote Rossiya Segodnya outlets—spreading mis- and disinformation, curated in support of Russian state narratives.