Facebook has blocked dozens of Russian-linked accounts for vaccine disinformation

Facebook has blocked dozens of Russian-linked accounts for vaccine disinformation

Facebook stated in Tuesday that removed a network of accounts from Russia associated with a marketing firm that aimed to attract influencers to spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

The social network said it had blocked accounts associated with Fazze, a subsidiary of the UK-based marketing company AdNow, which primarily operated from Russia, for violating Facebook's foreign intervention policy. According to Facebook, the company used the platforms primarily for target audiences in India, Latin America and, to a lesser extent, the United States.

Fazze allegedly created misleading articles and petitions on forums such as Reddit , Medium and Change.org, and used fake Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Facebook said the Russia-related operation began with the creation of fake accounts in 2020. In November and December 2020, the network reportedly posted memes and comments claiming that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine would turn humans into chimpanzees, often using scenes from the 1968 film Planet of the Apes.

In May 2021, after five months of inactivity, Fazze began questioning the safety of the Pfizer vaccine by circulating an allegedly leaked AstraZeneca document. Facebook researchers said the two phases of activity coincided with periods when several governments were reportedly discussing emergency vaccine approvals.

In addition, according to media reports, Fazze contacted influencers on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok in several countries to ask them to spread misinformation about vaccines.

Facebook says it has blocked 65 Facebook accounts and 243 Instagram accounts as part of a Fazze-related operation. He noted that there are still questions about the disinformation campaign, such as who instructed Fazze to carry it out.