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Facebook blocks accounts linked to Russian state-owned Sputnik

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Thursday it had removed hundreds of Russia-initiated accounts, which it judged to be involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior on its platforms, including some linked to state-owned news agency Sputnik.

In a separate statement, Sputnik attacked the social network for a decision it said was political and amounted to censorship of seven Facebook pages belonging to its news hubs in neighboring countries.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a blog post bit.ly/2W1h9LR it had unearthed two separate operations which originated in Russia, with one active in multiple countries across eastern Europe and the other specific to Ukraine.

The social media company said it had taken down about 364 Facebook pages and accounts operating in Baltic Sea states, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and parts of Europe, and that the pages were linked to employees of Sputnik.

“Despite their misrepresentations of their identities, we found that these pages and accounts were linked to employees of Sputnik,” Gleicher wrote.

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