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Accounts for half a million dollars: Facebook killed up to a thousand bots of Servant of the People, Derkach, and Groysman

Facebook deleted the bots of Servant of the People, Derkach, and Groysman. Photo: unsplash / @ timbennettcreative

Facebook deleted the bots of Servant of the People, Derkach, and Groysman. Photo: unsplash / @ timbennettcreative

On May 6, Facebook released its April Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) Report on its fight against bots and coordinated networks of fake accounts. Ukraine also was included in the list. Over the past few years it has become one of the main sources of CIB activity that was found and deleted.

For instance, Facebook has removed 105 accounts, 24 pages and five Instagram profiles that were allegedly connected with the Servant of the people. Accounts have been removed for violating Facebook's Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Policy. In particular, they wrote in Russian and Ukrainian about corruption, politics, satire about the coronavirus, supported the Servant of the People in the comments and criticized opposition parties and politicians, for example, ex-President Petro Poroshenko and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko.

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The people behind this used real and fake accounts posing as independent news pages and redirecting readers to various sites that masqueraded as news sources.

$210,000 were spent on page promotion. 23,000 people were subscribed to one or more of these pages and 1,500 to one or more of these Instagram accounts.

Bots of Derkach, Groysman, and Zhuravel

In April, Facebook also removed 477 accounts, 363 pages, 35 groups, and 29 Instagram accounts that the social network links to entities and individuals that have come under US sanctions. We are talking about Andriy Derkach, Petro Zhuravel and those associated with the media Begemot. Some of the accounts were connected to people who provide advice to the former Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman and the Head of Oleh Kulinich’s parliamentary group Dovira (Trust) Oleh Kulinich.

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According to the report, the network is run by three separate groups of operators, each of them is connected with different politicians: Derkach, Groysman, and Kulinich. All pages were created in Ukraine and targeted the Ukrainian audience. Those behind this copied news content from other Ukrainian media outlets, creating a network of allegedly independent media and promoting the interests of politicians and political groups. But from time to time they also supported other parties, for example, Vidrodzhennia (Revival) or Servant of the People, although Facebook did not find any connection with the latter two.

It is also noted that the "bot farm", that is associated with Derkach, published not only Russian propaganda, but also anti-Russian content to attract more audiences.

About $496,000 were spent on promoting the publications of these pages. They were paid in dollars and rubles. About 2.37 million accounts have subscribed to one or more of these pages, up to 56,000 people have joined one or more of these groups, and about 30,000 have subscribed to these accounts on Instagram.

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