Facebook has come under fire recently for any number of damning reasons, from allowing advertisers to target users of hate speech to Mark Zuckerberg’s political aspirations. But none have been as disconcerting as the amount of fake news stories that ran amok on the social media network during the presidential election.
Following reports of Facebook ads generated directly from pro-Kremlin companies and another group linked to Russia that tried to recruit a Texas secessionist organization, now The Daily Beast reports that Russians impersonated a real Muslim organization on Facebook to promote fake news.
United Muslims of America is a real organization in California that promotes peace and unity between the United States and Muslims from around the world. They’ve met with several politicians and are in the midst of a rebuilding effort. You can find them on Facebook here.
However, an imposter account which identified itself as “United Muslims of America” was also in operation during the presidential election. In a subtle move, it primarily shared uplifting, inclusive images of Muslims and Muslim-Americans. However, according to The Daily Beast, it also snuck in memes promoting complete falsehoods about various US politicians. For example, it claimed that Hillary Clinton and John McCain were behind the creation of ISIS.
The fake account wasn’t limited to Facebook—it operated Twitter and Instagram accounts, too (all of which have since been shut down). To top it all off, the account, which continued posting as recently as July of this year, has now been traced back to the Russian government.
The impact that this will have on the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling with the election is currently unknown. While this account garnered hundreds of thousands of followers, it also tried to organize events, though there’s no evidence that said events ever actually occurred.
Perhaps the one true takeaway here is that Facebook did nothing until recently to stop this. Tashie Zaheer, the former president of the real UMA, says Facebook never contacted him about any imposter.