Facebook removes 276 fake accounts tied to right-wing group Turning Point Action after they were used to pose as conservative Americans commenting on articles in favor of Trump

 Facebook has removed 276 accounts that used fake profiles to pose as right-leaning Americans and comment on news articles, often in favor of President Donald Trump, the company said on Thursday.

The platform said in a statement that it had linked the bogus accounts to Rally Forge, a US marketing firm working on behalf of Turning Point USA, a conservative student group.

In a statement to DailyMail.com, Turning Point USA said that Facebook's announcement was actually in reference to Turning Point Action, which it called 'an entirely separate entity.' 

Turning Point USA and political action committee Turning Point Action were both founded by conservative activist Charlie Kirk.

Facebook says it has removed 276 fake accounts linked to Turning Point Action. Turning Point USA and political action committee Turning Point Action were both founded by conservative activist Charlie Kirk (above)

Facebook says it has removed 276 fake accounts linked to Turning Point Action. Turning Point USA and political action committee Turning Point Action were both founded by conservative activist Charlie Kirk (above)

Facebook shared this comment as an example of what it calls the network of phony profiles posing as conservatives from across the US to comment on news articles

Facebook shared this comment as an example of what it calls the network of phony profiles posing as conservatives from across the US to comment on news articles


In a statement, Turning Point USA said that Turning Point Action always works hard to operate within social media terms of service on all of its projects, and hopes to work closely with Facebook to 'rectify any misunderstanding.'

Facebook said it had permanently banned Rally Forge, the Arizona-based digital communications firm that it said was behind the fake accounts.

The move was prompted by reporting last month in the Washington Post that Turning Point Action was paying teenagers to post coordinated messages, a violation of Facebook's rules.

At the time, Kirk issued a statement from TPA's field director defending the social media campaign and saying any comparison to a troll farm was a 'gross mischaracterization.'

'This is sincere political activism conducted by real people who passionately hold the beliefs they describe online, not an anonymous troll farm in Russia,' the field director, Austin Smith, said in the statement. 

Facebook removed 200 accounts and 55 pages at the social network and 76 Instagram accounts it said were part of the deception campaign and violated policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior

Facebook shared this as another example of the phony network of profiles

Facebook shared this as another example of the phony network of profiles

About 373,000 accounts followed one or more of the campaign's Facebook pages and around 22,000 people followed one or more of the Instagram accounts, according to the social network.

'Many of these accounts used stock profile photos and posed as right-leaning individuals from across the US,' Facebook said.

In 2018, some of the accounts posed as people with left-leaning views to make comments about news articles or public figures. 

While not formally linked to the Trump campaign, Turning Point -- which says it is active at more than 1,500 universities across the country -- has organized events for the president. 

Facebook says the network of phony accounts became active before the 2018 midterm elections and went dormant until June, when the accounts began posting on topics including the coronavirus pandemic, criticism of the Democratic Party and its nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, as well as praise for Trump and other Republicans.

'So sick of democrats continuing to make republicans look bad! It makes me tired of politics and I just believe Republicans are much more humble when it comes to money because Democrats will do anything to screw over Americans,' read one post Facebook cited as an example.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen above. The company says the network of phony accounts became active before the 2018 midterm elections

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is seen above. The company says the network of phony accounts became active before the 2018 midterm elections

Individuals behind the accounts used stock photos to create fake profiles, many of which were removed by Facebook´s automated detection software. Facebook determined that the accounts were being coordinated by Rally Forge, an Arizona-based firm.

'Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation linked this activity to Rally Forge,' Facebook said.

Turning Point Action was founded last year by Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a Phoenix-based non-profit that recruits college students to advocate for conservative causes. 

The group posts memes and videos on its social media pages that support Trump and other conservative politicians. Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. have also delivered speeches at Turning Point USA or Turning Point Action events, most recently during a June campaign rally in Phoenix.

Messages left with Rally Forge were not immediately returned Thursday.

Twitter, meanwhile, announced Thursday that it had suspended 104 accounts linked to an Iranian effort to amplify debates over the shooting of George Floyd and other issues of racial justice in the U.S.

The platform said that in some cases, the accounts had been hijacked from their original owners.

Facebook removes 276 fake accounts tied to right-wing group Turning Point Action after they were used to pose as conservative Americans commenting on articles in favor of Trump Facebook removes 276 fake accounts tied to right-wing group Turning Point Action after they were used to pose as conservative Americans commenting on articles in favor of Trump Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 05:12 Rating: 5

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