On Wednesday, Facebook announced that it had removed accounts belonging to Roger Stone, a friend and confidant of President Donald Trump, after having linked them to fake accounts and pages that were active throughout the 2016 election.
The announcement came as part of Facebook’s release of its monthly report on disinformation on the platform. The company connected Stone’s Facebook and Instagram accounts with a US-based disinformation network that also had ties to the Proud Boys far-right organization, the company said in a statement Wednesday. The Proud Boys was founded by Gavin McInnes, and members have attended right-wing extremist gatherings like the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
Facebook said that it removed 54 accounts, 50 pages, and four Instagram accounts on Thursday for being involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior in the US. According to the company, the individuals behind these accounts would pretend to be Florida residents and would post and comment on posts in order to amplify them, including material released by WikiLeaks ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
“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,” Facebook said in a statement. “Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates.”
In a statement provided to The New York Times, Stone denied any involvement in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook’s platforms. “The banning of individuals who may choose to re-post things that I have posted is an even more extraordinary act of inappropriate censorship.” He continued, “I will bring immediate legal action against the corporate parents of the social media platforms.”
Last November, Stone was convicted in federal court for obstructing a congressional inquiry and lying to investigators while under oath, among other charges, following the special counsel investigation under Robert Mueller. Throughout Mueller’s probe, investigators looked into attempts from Stone throughout the 2016 election to communicate with WikiLeaks. Stone is expected to go to prison later this month.