Belarusian KGB created fake social media accounts to fuel migrant crisis, according to Meta

By Matthias Williams

KIEV, Dec 2 (Reuters) – Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has linked the Belarusian KGB with creating dozens of fake social media accounts of people posing as journalists and activists to stir up the migrant crisis on the border of Belarus and Poland.

On Wednesday, a Meta report indicated that it had removed 41 Facebook accounts and five groups, and four Instagram accounts for violating its policy on “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

The fake profiles were used to criticize the behavior of the Polish authorities, including spreading accusations that border guards were using force and intimidation against migrants, he said.

“These fictitious characters published criticism of Poland in English, Polish and Kurdish, including photos and videos about Polish border guards who allegedly violated the rights of migrants, and compared Poland’s treatment of migrants with that of other countries,” says the report.

“Although the people behind tried to conceal their identities and their coordination, our investigation uncovered links to the Belarusian KGB,” the report denounced.

The Belarusian KGB could not be reached for comment.

Facebook has come under global pressure from regulators, legislators, and workers to combat abuses on its services.

The company told Reuters in September that it was being more aggressive in shutting down coordinated groups of real user accounts that carry out certain harmful activities on its platform, such as attempts to influence country elections.

Members of the European Union have accused Belarus of creating a migration crisis on the eastern borders of the bloc by encouraging thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa to try to cross into Poland and Lithuania, in revenge for Western sanctions on Minsk.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko denied doing so and blamed the EU for the crisis.

Human rights groups say at least 13 people have died while migrants camped out in freezing temperatures at the border.

The three EU countries bordering Belarus have defended their approach to push migrants back without individually assessing their cases or granting them a realistic opportunity to apply for asylum, as guaranteed by international humanitarian law.

(Additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk; edited in Spanish by Benjamín Mejías Valencia)

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