A Russian intelligence operation, whose online posts were taken down by Facebook, is suspected of spreading fake news about Northern Ireland, an investigation has found.

The campaign, which spread false information about the Real IRA and interactions between DUP leader Arlene Foster and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, is believed to be its first disinformation campaign targeting divisions in Ireland.

Digital researchers at an investigative centre connected to a US-based think tank found that a fake Irish Facebook account was among 16 used to spread disinformation with forged documents from dozens of online platforms in a bid to stir tensions within and between countries, including Ireland and the UK.

Facebook took down the accounts in May after the social media network identified a broad campaign of co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour “emanating from Russia” involving the use of fake accounts.



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