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Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook announced Wednesday it removed nearly 100 social media accounts and pages with links to Trump associate Roger Stone and the Proud Boys, a far-right group, for posting misinformation.

Why it matters: Facebook began looking into the accounts as part of an investigation into the Proud Boys' attempt to return to Facebook following a 2018 ban. The accounts posed as Florida residents and shared misinformation about local politics, land and water resource bills as well as misinformation about Stone's trial, books and media appearances.

  • The network of accounts consisted of 50 Facebook pages, 54 Facebook accounts and four Instagram accounts.
  • Nearly 260,000 people followed more than one of the removed Facebook pages, and 61,500 people followed one or more of the Instagram accounts.
  • The groups and individuals behind the accounts spent about $308,000 on advertising.

Context: Stone was sentenced to prison for three years for crimes uncovered by the Mueller investigation that include obstruction of justice, lying to Congress and witness tampering. He is due to report this month.

Go deeper

Hunter Biden story trips social media misinformation alarms

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

In 2016, hacked emails and foreign meddling shaped the political fight, and social media took much of the blame. Afterwards, the platforms designed circuit breakers to avoid a repeat in 2020.

What's happening: Those breakers tripped Wednesday at both Facebook and Twitter to stop the spread of a New York Post story that reported allegations about Joe Biden's son Hunter, based on what the paper said were emails provided to it Sunday by Rudy Giuliani.

Facebook and Twitter, the reluctant gatekeepers

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Deciding who gets to say what online is a complex business in the best of times, and the 2020 election is showing social media platforms just how messy it can get.

The big picture: Balancing concerns over misinformation, hacking and foreign meddling against free-speech principles is already hard enough. Tackling it in real time in the middle of a political knife fight is almost certainly going to go awry.

Updated 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.