Facebook Bans Russian Anti-Vaxxer Influencer Network from Platform over False Material

Facebook Bans Russian Anti-Vaxxer Influencer Network from Platform over False Material

  • Over 300 accounts on Facebook and Instagram that were distributing false material on the Covid-19 vaccine have been taken down by Facebook
  • The accounts were part of an anti-vaccine influencer campaign that was led by a Russian affiliated company called Fazze
  • Fazze's downfall was caused by influencers from France and Germany who became suspicious of the group, which had been trying to recruit them

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Facebook has clamped down on accounts linked to a coronavirus anti-vaccine campaign. The company stated that it has taken down a network of Russian-linked accounts.

The accounts were linked to a marketing agency that sought to recruit influencers to spread anti-vaccine content.

Facebook Russian Anti-Vaxxer Influencer Network, Fazze, Coronavirus, Covid-19, Instagram
Facebook has taken down social media accounts that were found to be spreading Covid-19 misinformation and linked to Russia based companies. Image: Chesnot
Source: Getty Images

The anti-vax campaign was run by Fazze, a subsidiary of UK-registered marketing agency AdNow. The company is said to have Russian affiliations, according to Reuters.

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The campaign was aimed at people in parts of Latin America and India, and, to a lesser extent, the United States through Facebook platforms.

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The campaign was dubbed a "disinformation laundromat" by Facebook's investigators as it involved posting false articles and petitions on websites such as Medium, Reddit and Change.org.

On Facebook and Instagram, fake accounts were created by the company to circulate misinformation regarding Covid-19 vaccines.

According to eNCA, 65 accounts from the Facebook social media platform and 243 profiles on Instagram were taken down by Facebook after they were found to have links to the influencer campaign lead by Fazze. Fazze was also completely banned from Facebook's platform in July.

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The campaign targeted vaccines such as Pfizer and the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines, once claiming that the AstraZeneca vaccine would turn people into chimpanzees.

Journalists were prompted to investigate Fazze by influencers from France and Germany who became suspicious of the email pitches sent to them by the company.

Facebook says they have not yet identified who hired Fazze to run the campaign but have given the necessary information to authorities for further investigation.

Facebook names top-earning brands on the platform, South African news website on the list

Briefly News previously reported that Facebook revealed the names of top-earning brands in Instant Articles in Africa, the Middle East and Turkey regions. South African Briefly News made the list with a significant 25.7m Instant Article pageviews in 2020.

Briefly News is one of the biggest news and entertainment platforms in South Africa. The website keeps its readers up-to-date on the latest in current affairs, celeb news and gossip and trending stories about events and people.

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As an example, one Briefly News story generated nearly 250,000 page views alone, boosted by the use of Instant Articles. The accompanying revenue has also allowed the company to hire more staff.

Briefly News' Rianette Cluley shared what helped Briefly News make the list of top-earning brands in Instant Articles.

“We use a data-driven approach and seek to improve our audience’s lives in real time,” Cluley said. “Constant analysis is our everyday routine.”

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