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The infamous Russian troll factory that littered social media during the 2016 campaign with inflammatory memes never really went away. In fact, it might be back. Facebook announced on Thursday that it had suspended a handful of accounts, some of which shared “technical overlap with Russia-based activity we saw prior to the US midterm, including behavior that shared characteristics with previous Internet Research Agency.” So what’s the network of oddly similar trolls up to?
Who: It’s not just the undisclosed technical similarities Facebook saw that make the accounts shut down on Thursday seem eerily familiar to the IRA. A screenshot shown in the Facebook announcement shows one of the shut down Instagram accounts, ukrainarealiyi. It’s the social footprint of a propaganda outlet by the same name ukrainarealiyi or “Ukraine Realities.” That name ring any bells? It should. Remember that shortly after the 2016 election, a new website called “USAReally” popped up on servers linked to the IRA, which published some very IRA-like material. USAReally itself has tried to stress its connections to the IRA, if only in trolly gimmicks. After the U.S. indicted the IRA’s payroll chief, Elena Khusyaynova, USAReally rushed to claim that she was now the group’s chief financial officer.