Facebook has deleted a network of pages, which had been sharing fake opinion polls and via fake users (bots) during the election campaign.

Thus, the deleted pages are: Taxpayer Association. Kyiv, Ukraine Online, and Free Ukraine.

Facebook has also deleted most of fake users, which had been sharing these posts. Thus, all the users mentioned by OPORA were blocked, including: Anhelina Viatkovska, Borys Dziubak, Oleh Babkin, Ania Tarasova, Yakiv Miroshnychenko. When you go to any of these pages, you can see the following message from Facebook:

At the time this material was published (23 October 2020), Facebook hadn't provided yet additional information about the deletion of pages and fake accounts. Therefore, the exact number of deleted pages is unknown. However, some of the fake accounts that actively commented on the above posts remained active. Detailed information about deleted and active accounts is available at tables.

We would like to remind that OPORA drew attention to three public pages, when monitoring political advertising on Facebook. These pages shared identical ratings of candidates, which had every feature of a fake poll. Moreover, they also used paid tools for promotion.

These ads were shared by the following pages: Taxpayer Association. Kyiv, Ukraine Online, and Free Ukraine. During the election campaign, they simultaneously published ratings with a bloated percentage of support for Kyiv mayoral candidate Andrii Palchevskyi. These posts referred to results of a poll conducted by the Center for Social Development "Inter-Action" that got into the Pseudo-sociologist Base due to a non-compliance with the requirements for the publication of opinion polls. Looks like pages Ukraine Online and Free Ukraine were created specially to share the results of this poll. Thus, they were created on the same day (22 June 2020), and have no other posts besides the above mentioned poll. These pages have posted 23 advertisements, mostly duplicated, in September. Thus, over 32 thousand dollars (about 860 thousand hryvnias) were spent on their promotion. These pages had another common feature - links to news aggregators Znaj.ua and Politeka.net.  In addition, the pages used fake accounts (bots) to promote their posts.

According to Facebook's terms of use, users are not allowed to misrepresent themselves on Facebook, use fake accounts, artificially increase the popularity of page content, etc. Facebook calls such behavior "Coordinated inauthentic behavior". It has been focused lately on the detection and elimination of such behavior. Thus, Facebook deleted a network of pages and accounts associated with sites Znaj.ua, Politeka, Hyser, Akcenty  in September 2019, due to such behavior.

The image below shows an example of how of bot farms work under the advertising posts of pages Taxpayer Association. Kyiv, Ukraine Online, and Free Ukraine:

In general, OPORA has analyzed 2,530 comments to seven identical advertising posts and found a network of over a hundred bots that create artificial activeness in comments to them. All these facts testified that these pages violated the terms of Facebook aimed to promote mayoral candidate in Kyiv Andrii Palchevskyi.

More information about the activeness of this group working in support of Palchevskyi on Facebook: Facebook victory of Palchenskyi: fake sociology, "taxpayers", bots, and neighbors giving ads.

For comments, contact: Robert Lorian, Data Analyst at Civil Network OPORA lr@opora.org.ua, 0955711066

Anastasiia Romaniuk, Olha Snopok - social network monitoring specialists