On Thursday, August 6, Facebook announced it removed a small pro-Trump network which was operating in Romania. As a consequence of the investigations, many legit users in Romania, including some Facebook Business Managers, had their accounts closed for a period of up to 14 days, but their accounts were re-opened once the social-network giant decided the accounts had no connection to the targeted group.
The pro-Trump network acting in Romania was composed of 35 fake Facebook accounts, many of them posing in Americans, and 88 Instagram accounts. The reach of the network was rather small, with only 1,600 accounts following the Facebook pages and 7,200 followers on Instagram. Yet, if massively shared, the messages posted could’ve reached hundreds of thousands during the election campaign.
Similar story in 2016: Romanian influencing pro-Trump campaign
It might have ring a bell for you, right? Romania – Trump – elections. Doesn’t it?
If not, let us remind you of what happened in 2016. During the campaign, one website was responsible for 4 of the 10 fake news which influenced the American presidential elections: Ending the Fed. Collectively, the four stories generated approximately 2,953,000 engagements. Ending the Fed’s Facebook page, titled End the Fed, has 350,000 Likes.
The funny thing is the pages were established by a Romanian, Ovidiu Drobota, 24 years at that time, who succeeded in getting more than 3.4 million users for the website a month at its peak. The users would read fake news, such as “Pope endorsing Trump campaign” or “Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS”, which are obviously fake. Yet, the “news” were massively shared across Facebook at that time, directly influencing the pro-Trump votes.