Facebook has banned the U.S. marketing firm that was behind a campaign to disseminate deceptive political content on behalf of Turning Point USA, a political advocacy group for young conservatives with ties to President Donald Trump.
Rally Forge employed people who used use fake names and profile pictures while commenting on content posted by other users or mainstream media outlets, Facebook’s head of security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said Thursday. The firm did that work on behalf of Turning Point USA and Inclusive Conservation Group, an environmental advocacy organization.
“They did that seemingly to create the perception of widespread support of their narratives by leaving comments on posts by media entities and public figures,” Gleicher said. He noted that the accounts used “thinly veiled personas,” such as tweaking real people’s names, to bypass Facebook’s filters.
Gleicher said Facebook is not penalizing Turning Point or Inclusive Conservation Group, though it’s still investigating whether other deceptive tactics were deployed.
“We have to take action based on evidence that we see on our platform and that we can clearly articulate and can describe and provide if needed,” Gleicher said.
He also repeated Facebook’s call for legislation and regulation to provide greater clarity on allowed online advocacy — and the company outlined broad suggestions for rules to mitigate influence operations, including greater transparency from platforms and sanctions on bad actors.
“There are broader questions about what constitutes acceptable political advocacy versus deception and where those lines should be drawn,” Gleicher said. “Those sorts of questions are exactly the reason why tackling influence operations is a whole of society challenge.”
More on the campaign: Facebook said it removed 200 Facebook accounts, 55 pages and 76 Instagram accounts tied to Rally Forge. Those accounts also spent just shy of $1 million on advertising, a figure that Gleicher