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Facebook Exposes French Meddling in African Affairs

Facebook accused people linked to the French military on Tuesday of running a covert online influence operation targeting parts of Africa. It is the first time Facebook has publicly linked a campaign like this to individuals connected to a Western military. The deceptive tactics allegedly used, which include using Facebook to pose as locals in the targeted countries, mirror misinformation campaigns run by the Russian government. According to Facebook, the operations targeted the “Central African Republic and Mali, and to a lesser extent Niger, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire and Chad.” Facebook removed the accounts and also announced on Tuesday that it had removed accounts, also posing as Africans that were linked to Russian troll group. In some cases, Facebook said, the fake French and Russian accounts even interacted with each other. Facebook said the alleged French accounts “posted primarily in French and Arabic about news and current events including France’s policies in Francophone Africa, the security situation in various African countries, claims of potential Russian interference in the election in the Central African Republic (CAR), supportive commentary about French military, and criticism of Russia’s involvement in CAR.” Elections are due to take place in CAR later this month.