SOCIAL MEDIA | Facebook Takes Down Accounts And Pages Of Trump Ally Roger Stone

MILAN – Facebook Inc on Wednesday removed 50 personal and professional pages connected to U.S. President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, who is due to report to prison next week.

The social media platform said Stone and his associates, including a prominent supporter of the right-wing Proud Boys group in Stone’s home state Florida, has used fakes accounts and followers to promote Stone’s books and posts.

Facebook moved against Stone on the same day it took downs accounts tied to employees of the family of Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro and two other networks connected to domestic political operations in Ecuador and Ukraine.

Nathaniel Gleicher. Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said the removals were meant to show that artificially inflating engagement for political impact would be stopped, no matter how well connected the practitioners.

‘It doesn’t matter what they’re saying, and it doesn’t matter who they are’, Gleicher told Reuters before the announcement on the company’s blog. ‘We expect we’re going to see more political actors cross this line and use coordinated inauthentic behavior to try to influence public debate’.

Facebook officials said they took down Stone’s personal Facebook and Instagram pages and his Stone Cold Truth Facebook page, which had 141,000 followers. A total of 54 Facebook accounts and 50 pages were removed for misbehavior, including the creation of fake accounts. The accounts spent more than $300,000 on advertisements over the past few years, Facebook said.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was briefed on the actions beforehand, officials said.

The removals risk further angering Trump and other conservatives who accuse Facebook of suppressing right-wing voices. Facebook last moth took down a Trump re-election ad that included a Nazi symbol, and it pledged to steer users to facts on voting when Trump, or anyone else, touches on the topic.

Facebook is under pressure from civil rights advocates and allied groups as well, and hundreds of advertisers have joined a boycott demanding the company crack down on hateful and divisive messages.

Stone was convicted last year for witness tampering and lying to Congress as it investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Some did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. He told the far-right website Gateway Pundit: ‘We have been exposing the railroad job that was so deep and so obvious during my trial, which is why they must silence me. As they will soon learn, I cannot and will not be silenced’.

In search warrant documents released this April, the FBI said a Stone assistant told interviewers in 2018 ‘that he purchased a couple hundred fake Facebook accounts as part of this work”.

Facebook said its probe was influenced by the April search documents. But the company said that its unit guarding against coordinated inauthentic behavior had already been looking into Stone’s pages after a referral from a separate Facebook team monitoring dangerous organizations, which was tracking the Proud Boys.

Facebook marked the Proud Boys as dangerous and banned their content in 2018. Members have been charged with violence in multiple instances and recently clashed with anti-racism protesters.

One of the accounts connected to the Proud Boys was operated by Jacob Engels, Facebook said. Stone testified last year the Engels could post on Instagram on his behalf and had access to his phone.

Engels, who writes for far-right sites, told Reuters he is not a member of the Proud Boys but has ‘embedded’ with them to research the group.

Graphika analyst Ben Nimmo, a disinformation specialist, said the Stone network had been most active in 2016 and 2017, among other things promoting stories about the Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks as part of the Russian interference effort.

Many of the accounts were later deleted, and in recent weeks they have mostly reflected Stone’s quest to receive a pardon from Trump for his crimes, according to Nimmo.

‘The inauthentic accounts were amplifying various Stone assets, like his page, or advertising one of his books’, Nimmo said.

Stone has been stepping up his efforts to get a pardon from Trump before he reports to prison, where his family fears the spread of COVID-19. Trump has said that Stone was treated unfairly, and his attorney general intervened to seek a lesser sentence, prompting four career prosecutors to resign from the case.


Travel | Honduras To Reopen Domestic And International Flights In Mid-August

MILAN | ITALY – Honduras announced Tuesday it will reopen its airports to domestic and international flights in mid-August, after a nearly five-month closure due to the pandemic. The reopening of the airport is part of the government’s efforts to reactivate the economy, which is expected to contract between 7% and 8%, according to the … Continue reading Travel | Honduras To Reopen Domestic And International Flights In Mid-August

BREAKING NEWS | Trump Says Beirut Explosion Seems To Be ‘Bomb Of Some King’

MILAN | ITALY – President Donald Trump on Tuesday cast a massive explosion that killed dozens of people and wounded thousands in Lebanon’s capital, Beirut, as a possible attack and offered U.S. help. ‘The United States ready to assist Lebanon’, Trump said at a White House briefing. ‘We will be there to help. It looks … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Trump Says Beirut Explosion Seems To Be ‘Bomb Of Some King’

BREAKING NEWS | Trump Says U.S. Ready To Assist Lebanon After ‘Terrible Attack’

MILAN | ITALY – President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he sent his sympathies to Lebanon for the dozens of people killed and thousands wounded in a massive explosion in Beirut, which he cast as an attack, and offered U.S. help. ‘The United States stands ready to assist Lebanon’, Trump said at a White House … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Trump Says U.S. Ready To Assist Lebanon After ‘Terrible Attack’

BREAKING NEWS | U.K. PM Johnson Offers Support To Beirut After Massive Blast

LONDON – Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Britain stood ready to provide any support it could to help Beirut after a massive explosion in the city’s port area killed 25 people and injured more than 2,500. ‘The pictures and videos from Beirut  tonight are shocking’, Johnson wrote on Twitter. ‘All of my thoughts and prayer … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | U.K. PM Johnson Offers Support To Beirut After Massive Blast

BREAKING NEWS | Massive Blast Rips Through Beirut, Killing 50 And Injuring Thousands

BEIRUT | LEBANON – A huge explosion in port warehouses near central Beirut Killed more than 50 people, injured over 2,750 and sent shockwaves that shattered windows, smashed masonry and shook the ground across the Lebanese capital. Officials expected the death toll to rise further after Tuesday’s blast as emergency workers dug through rubble to … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Massive Blast Rips Through Beirut, Killing 50 And Injuring Thousands

BREAKING NEWS | Saudi Arabia Following With Great Concern Consequences Of Beirut’s Explosion: SPA

RIYADH  | SAUDI ARABIA – Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday that is it following with great concern the consequences of Beirut’s port explosion, according to the state news agency. The statement also affirmed the kingdom’s full support and solidarity with the Lebanese people. The death toll from a massive explosion in Beirut  on … Continue reading BREAKING NEWS | Saudi Arabia Following With Great Concern Consequences Of Beirut’s Explosion: SPA

TRAVEL | Jordan Delays Resuming International Flight After COVID-19 Surge Abroad

AMMAN – Jordan on Tuesday postponed a resumption of international flight services that was planned for Wednesday almost five months after they were suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, officials said. Civil Aviation Commission chief Haitham Mistro has announced last month that Queen Alia International Airport outside the capital Amman would reopen on Aug.5 for … Continue reading TRAVEL | Jordan Delays Resuming International Flight After COVID-19 Surge Abroad

SPORT | Red Card For Virus As Saudi Pro League Returns With Riyadh Derby

RIYADH | SAUDI ARABIA – The most popular rivalry in the Saudi Pro League (SPL) will take center stage as Al-Nassr host Al-Hilal on Wednesday, with safety precautions to allow the safe return of football in the Kingdom. The eagerness for football’s return will be highlighted when players arrive fully kitted at King Fahd Stadium, … Continue reading SPORT | Red Card For Virus As Saudi Pro League Returns With Riyadh Derby

ROYALS | Former King Juan Carlos To Leave Spain Amid Corruption Allegations

MADRID – Spain’s former king Juan Carlos has told his son, King Felipe, that he is leaving the country, the Royal House said on Monday, in a dramatic move designed to protect the monarchy after corruption allegations against him surfaced. In June, the Spanish Supreme Court opened an investigation into Juan Carlos’s involvement in a … Continue reading ROYALS | Former King Juan Carlos To Leave Spain Amid Corruption Allegations

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