Facebook says it suspends accounts tied to Putin ally for meddling in Africa

Facebook Inc says it has suspended three networks of Russian accounts that attempted to interfere in the domestic politics of eight African countries. They were tied to a Russian businessman accused of meddling in past US elections.

The campaigns used almost 200 fake and compromised accounts to target people in Madagascar, Central African Republic, Mozambique, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Sudan and Libya, Facebook said. Between them, the accounts amassed more than 1 million followers.

All the networks were connected to “entities associated with Russian financier Yevgeniy Prigozhin,” a Russian catering tycoon indicted by US special prosecutor Robert Mueller as the backer of an alleged Russian effort to sway elections in the United States with covert social media campaigns.

Prigozhin and lawyers representing him did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the latest Facebook accusations.

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In some of the African countries, the Russian-run networks worked with local citizens to better disguise their origins and target internet users, said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cyber security policy.

"There’s sort of a joining of forces, if you will, between local actors and actors from Russia," he told Reuters.   

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