WASHINGTON -- Facebook said it has removed a network of social-media accounts linked to the Georgian Dream Party that promoted its policies and criticized the opposition.
The U.S.-based company said on December 20 that it deleted 39 Facebook accounts, 344 pages, 13 groups, and 22 Instagram accounts originating in Georgia.
Facebook said the pages posed as news organizations -- such as FastNews.ge and Mypress.ge -- and impersonated political parties, public figures, activist groups, and media entities.
The pages and accounts posted about domestic issues, including elections, government policies, “criticism of the opposition, and local activist organizations,” Facebook said.
The company said about 442,300 accounts followed at least one of the pages while about 52,000 had joined one of the groups. Facebook did not say how long the accounts had been active.
Facebook said the individuals behind the network of accounts tried to conceal themselves and their coordination.
However, its investigation team “linked this activity to Panda, an advertising agency in Georgia, and the Georgian Dream-led government,” Facebook said.
Billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made his money in Russia, is the power behind the Georgian Dream party.
Critics accuse Ivanishvili and his allies of reversing hard-fought democratic gains, usurping the levers of government, and unfairly punishing political opponents and critical media outlets.
The country has been rocked by a wave of anti-government rallies since June. Protesters have been calling for reforms to the country's electoral system, which opposition parties say unfairly favors the ruling Georgian Dream party.
Georgia will hold parliamentary elections next year.