July 8 (UPI) -- Facebook on Wednesday took down dozens of accounts linked to Republican operative Roger Stone, efforts at foreign interference and white nationalist groups.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy, said all the accounts, pages and Instagram accounts it removed violated the social media company's policies against foreign interference and coordinated inauthentic behavior.
He said the company took down four separate networks based in Canada and Ecuador, Brazil, Ukraine and the United States.
"The majority of the activity we removed today focused on domestic audiences in each country and was linked to commercial entities and individuals associated with political campaigns and political offices," Gleicher wrote in a blog post.
"Domestic campaigns like these raise a particularly complex challenge by blurring the line between healthy public debate and manipulation."
One network included accounts linked to the so-called Proud Boys, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as a hate group because of its white nationalist beliefs and support for events such as the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Facebook banned the group in 2018 but began investigating its attempts to return to the platform, uncovering more than 100 pages and accounts. The accounts posted about Florida politics, Stone and his trial, WikiLeaks and the 2016 election.
"Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates," Gleicher wrote.
Facebook also removed a network of more than 100 accounts out of Ukraine, which posted about Crimea, NATO, Ukrainian politics and government leaders; more than 100 accounts out of Brazil, which posted about politics, elections and media outlets; and nearly 200 accounts out of Canada and Ecuador which focused on El Salvador, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador and Chile.
Meanwhile, an independent civil rights audit of Facebook criticized CEO Mark Zuckerberg's power over the social network. The investigation, which was led by civil rights leader Laura Murphy and civil rights law firm Relman Colfax, concluded that the company hasn't done enough to prevent discrimination on the platform.
The report comes as a number of companies boycott advertising on Facebook because they believe the platform doesn't do enough to stop the spread of hate speech.
"Many in the civil rights community have become disheartened, frustrated and angry after years of engagement where they implored the company to do more to advance equality and fight discrimination, while also safeguarding free expression," the report said.
The auditors said they interviewed more than 100 civil rights organizations as part of their investigation.