The three networks of Facebook and Instagram accounts targeting African users were engaging what the social network has described as coordinated "inauthentic" behaviour. "Each of these operations created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing," Facebook said.
Facebook said it had connected these campaigns to entities associated with Russian financier Yevgeny Prigozhin, a Russian businessman who the US Department of Justice has previously indicted for suspected involvement in founding and financing the Internet Research Agency – the troll farm accused of meddling in elections around the world, including the US.
35 Facebook accounts, 53 Facebook pages, seven groups and five Instagram accounts originating from Russia have been removed, which focused on Madagascar, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire and Cameroon
About 475,000 Facebook users are believed to have followed one or more of the inauthentic accounts, some of which also used locals to help post content.
Subjects the accounts posted about include elections in Madagascar and Mozambique, criticism of US and French foreign policies, as well global and local political news. The accounts also spent $77,000 in advertising to help promote posts with the first advert running in April 2018 and the most recent running in October this year.