Facebook announced on Wednesday that it has shut down pages and accounts linked to Roger Stone and Proud Boys, a far-right group the social media outlet has banned under its hate policies. Stone’s own Instagram account was also shut down as part of the effort.
The network of more than 100 Facebook pages, accounts and Instagram accounts allegedly spent more than $300,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads in order to promote their posts.
Some of the pages and accounts included false personas, an analysis that was commissioned by Facebook discovered.
The pages posted about the hacked materials released by Wikileaks ahead of the 2016 presidential election, as well as politics in Florida, and Roger Stone himself, among other topics, according to Facebook.
Those pages were also active around the time of Stone’s trial last year, said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy.
“We first started looking into this network as part of our investigation into the Proud Boys’ attempts to return to Facebook after we had designated and banned them from the platform,” Gleicher wrote in a blog post. Facebook banned the Proud Boys from its platform two years ago.
“Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates,” he added.
Although several of the pages had links to Proud Boys, the company did not find links between these pages and foreign entities.
BREAKING: Roger Stone has been Suspended from Facebook and Instagram. pic.twitter.com/2gKykhKIR2
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) July 8, 2020
Gleicher said some of the accounts posed as Florida residents and would “post and comment on their own content to make it appear more popular than it is.”
“We identified the full scope of this network following the recent public release of search warrants pertaining to the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in response to a joint petition from The New York Times, CNN, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and Politico,” he added.
Based on those search warrants, CNN reported last April about the federal investigation into Stone’s Facebook activities.
According to court records, Stone’s assistant said Stone purchased “a couple hundred fake Facebook accounts” in 2016 and used them to promote leaked Democratic documents that would help the Trump campaign.
Stone is scheduled to surrender at a federal prison in Georgia next week to serve a 40-month sentence.
A jury found him guilty of seven charges last November, for lying to and obstructing Congress and threatening a witness, regarding his attempts to contact WikiLeaks during the 2016 election to help the Trump campaign. Stone lied, prosecutors said, in part to protect the President.
A certified Roger Stone account on the alternative social media site Parler shared news of his banning Wednesday afternoon, along with a quote: “We have been exposing the railroad job that was so deep and so obvious during my trial, which is why they must silence me. As they will soon learn, I cannot and will not be silenced.”