Roger Stone is thrown off Facebook and Instagram
Roger Stone is thrown off Facebook and Instagram for using fake accounts run by far-right ‘Proud Boys’ to promote his posts – and Robert Mueller found the evidence
- Donald Trump’s disgraced adviser Stone is removed from Facebook and Instagram, which the platform owns as part of crackdown on fake accounts
- Head of cybersecurity, Nathaniel Gleicher, says Stone used network of fake accounts and followers to boost his own posts and those for his books
- Gleicher said anyone using fake followers, no matter how well connected, should take heed and said: ‘It doesn’t matter who they are.’
- Facebook says network of his supporters included member of far-right group the ‘Proud Boys’
- Stone posted message on new ‘free speech’ network Parler saying: ‘I cannot and will not be silenced.’
- He is due to report to federal prison within days and is also pleading with Donald Trump to commute his sentence or pardon him
Facebook on Wednesday removed 50 personal and professional pages connected to U.S. President Donald Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, who is due to report to prison next week.
The social media platform said Stone and his associates, including a prominent supporter of the right-wing Proud Boys group in Stone’s home state of Florida, had used fake accounts and followers to promote Stone’s books and posts.
Facebook moved against Stone on the same day it took down accounts tied to employees of the family of Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro and two other networks connected to domestic political operations in Ecuador and Ukraine.
CNN reported that Stone posted on Parler, the ‘free speech’ alternative to Twitter, to say: ‘As they will soon learn, I cannot and will not be silenced.’
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said the removals were meant to show that artificially inflating engagement for political impact would be stopped, no matter how well connected the practitioners.
‘It doesn’t matter what they’re saying, and it doesn’t matter who they are,’ Gleicher told Reuters before the announcement.
The Stone network was uncovered with the help of information unearthed by the Robert Mueller investigation, Gleicher said.
Goodbye to all this: Roger Stone used his platform to push Donald Trump – but was using fake followers, says Facebook, who are removing him from it and Instagram
Canceled: Roger Stone was removed from Facebook and Instagram for breaking rules about using fake followers to boost his pages
Controversial: Stone narrowly avoided being put behind bars for this image of the judge in his trial apparently in the crosshairs as he attacked her for being appointed by Barack Obama
More hate: Roger Stone reacted to the death of Barbara Bush by calling her ‘nasty, rude, vindictive, entitled’ and claiming she launched a ‘drunken tirade’ against him
‘We expect we’re going to see more political actors cross this line and use coordinated inauthentic behavior to try to influence public debate.
‘We want to make sure these assets, most of which are dormant, can’t be reactivated and used in the upcoming election.’
Facebook officials said they took down Stone’s personal Facebook and Instagram pages and his Stone Cold Truth Facebook page, which had 141,000 followers.
A total of 54 Facebook accounts and 50 pages were removed for misbehavior, including the creation of fake accounts.
The accounts spent more than $300,000 on advertisements over the past few years, Facebook said.
While the activity dates back several years, Facebook uncovered the network as a result of the public release of search warrants from special counsel Mueller’s investigation.
The fake accounts posted about local politics in Florida; hacked materials released by Wikileaks ahead of the US 2016 election; candidates in the 2016 primaries and general election, as well as Stone himself and his trial, according to Facebook.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was briefed on the actions beforehand, officials said.
The removals risk further angering Trump and other conservatives who accuse Facebook of suppressing right-wing voices. Facebook last month took down a Trump re-election ad that included a Nazi symbol, and it pledged to steer users to facts on voting when Trump, or anyone else, touches on the topic.
Facebook is under pressure from civil rights advocates and allied groups as well, and hundreds of advertisers have joined a boycott demanding the company crack down on hateful and divisive messages.
In search warrant documents released this April, the FBI said a Stone assistant told interviewers in 2018 ‘that he purchased a couple hundred fake Facebook accounts as part of this work.’
Facebook said its probe was influenced by the April search documents. But the company said that its unit guarding against coordinated inauthentic behavior had already been looking into Stone’s pages after a referral from a separate Facebook team monitoring dangerous organizations, which was tracking the Proud Boys.
Graphika analyst Ben Nimmo, a disinformation specialist, said the Stone network had been most active in 2016 and 2017, among other things promoting stories about the Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks as part of the Russian interference effort.
Many of the accounts were later deleted, and in recent weeks they have mostly reflected Stone´s quest to receive a pardon from Trump for his crimes, according to Nimmo.
‘The inauthentic accounts were amplifying various Stone assets, like his page, or advertising one of his books,’ Nimmo said.
Stone has been stepping up his efforts to get a pardon from Trump before he reports to prison, where his family fears the spread of COVID-19. Trump has said that Stone was treated unfairly, and his attorney general intervened to seek a lesser sentence, prompting four career prosecutors to resign from the case.
Facebook also disrupted a deceptive campaign in Brazil that it linked to the Social Liberal Party and employees of the offices Bolsonaro and his allies.
The network in Brazil relied fictitious personae posing as reporters masquerading as news outlets, Facebook determined.
Bogus accounts in Brazil posted about elections; political memes; political opposition, journalists, and most recently they posted about the coronavirus pandemic, according to the leading social network.
Gleicher credited press reports and congressional testimony in Brazil with leading Facebook to uncover the network there.
The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, working with Facebook, found ‘duplicate and fake accounts that promoted Bolsonaro and his allies in various Facebook groups, as well as pages with hundreds of thousand followers that published pro-Bolsonaro memes and other content disparaging his critics,’ according to a post by researchers.
‘While the pages did not openly state that they were connected to Bolsonaro and his allies, several were linked to staffers of pro-Bolsonaro politicians.’
A separate network originating in Canada and Ecuador was focused on El Salvador, Argentina, Uruguay, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Chile, according to Facebook.
This network posted about news in the countries it targeted, with topics including politics, activism, praise and criticism of political candidates, Gleicher said.
A Facebook investigation found links to political consultants and former government employees in Ecuador and Estraterra, a Canada-based PR firm.
Estraterra is now banned from Facebook platforms, according to Gleicher.
A network disrupted in the Ukraine was particularly active during the 2019 presidential election in that country, posting political memes, satire and other content including about Crimea, NATO, economic policies in Ukraine, domestic politics, elections, criticism and support of various candidates, Facebook said.
Facebook linked the activity to Postmen DA, an advertising agency in Ukraine.
The rise and fall of the ‘trysexual’ dirty trickster: How Roger Stone’s swaggering love of Richard Nixon, conspiracy theories and swinging took him to the top then foundered when he lied for Donald Trump
A guilty verdict last year brought an abrupt end to the decades-long career of Roger Stone, a smooth-talking agent provocateur and self-proclaimed dirty trickster who thrived in the shadier margins of U.S. politics.
Growing up in Lewisboro, New York, to a blue-collar Catholic family, Roger Jason Stone Jr.’s zeal for the rough and tumble of political life was apparent from a young age.
In elementary school he advocated for John F. Kennedy telling kids in the cafeteria line that Nixon would make them attend extra classes on a Saturday if he won the 1960 election.
When he was a junior and vice president of student government in high school Stone manipulated the ouster of the president so he could take over.
‘I built alliances and put all my serious challengers on my ticket,’ he would brag to the New York Times decades later.
‘I recruited the most unpopular guy in the school to run against me. You think that’s mean? No, it’s smart.’
Roger Stone was found guilty of obstructing justice, witness tampering and lying to Congress bringing his decades-long career to an end
He worked for Richard Nixon, becoming so enthralled with the president that Stone would later have Nixon’s face tattooed on his back
Stone was hired as an adviser when Trump finally launched a bid for the White House nearly two decades later after Stone first suggested he run. Stone was pushed out in a power struggle
Stone entered the political arena for real in 1972 when he ditched his studies at George Washington University, this time to support Nixon in his re-election campaign – not to be the only time he shifted allegiances without a qualm.
In one of his first ‘dirty tricks’ he contributed $135 to one of Nixon’s Republican rivals in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance – then slipped the receipt to a journalist.
When Nixon triumphed the braggadocios young aide was rewarded was a job on the administration. Perhaps unintentionally, his association with student dirty tricks also gained him an association with the ‘ratf***ers,’ the dirty operative beloved of Nixon.
Stone himself denied being one of them, saying they were from the University of Southern California, but the nickname was attached to him for life.
The 37th President of the United States left a lasting impression on Stone: the longtime GOP operative would later have Nixon’s face tattooed on his back.
‘Women love it,’ he told the New Yorker. ‘The reason I’m a Nixonite is because of his indestructibility and resilience.
Nixon left another legacy on Stone: Watergate.
During congressional hearings into the scandal in 1973 it emerged Stone had recruited a spy to infiltrate the campaigns of several of Nixon’s Democratic rivals.
He was fired from his job with then-Senator Bob Dole but his reputation for the dark political arts was intact.
Stone reunited with Dole for his 1996 presidential campaign but resigned when The National Enquirer revealed he placed ads on a swingers website seeking sex partners for himself and his second wife Nydia Bertran Stone.
He later referred to himself in an interview with the New Yorker, partly conducted in a swingers club, as ‘a libertarian and a libertine’and a ‘trysexual – I’ve tried everything’.
The couple have more recently apparently found religion, bringing a pastor in robes to the trial with them and being seen at Sunday mass.
The former advisor to President Donald Trump has a tattoo with Nixon’s face on his upper back, which he showed off for a Netflix special
In 1996 The National Enquirer revealed Stone placed ads on a swingers website seeking sex partners for himself and his second wife Nydia Bertran Stone
Stone adopted President Nixon’s iconic V for victory symbol, often posing with it
Stone, pictured at his office in Florida, is a veteran Republican political operative after entering politics in 1972
Stone went on to work for several more presidential campaigns: those of Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and, eventually, his longtime friend Donald Trump, who had hired Stone to lobby for his casino businesses in the 1990s.
He likewise forged a longtime bond with the disgraced former Trump campaign chairman and now federal prison inmate Paul Manafort after the pair co-founded one of DC earliest ‘mega-lobbying’ firms, Black, Manafort & Stone, in 1980.
Along the way he picked up a reputation for dark arts and darker acts, a penchant for expensive tailoring and a rolodex of clients from the top of the Republican party and further afield – including Donald Trump’s struggling casino business, a connection which was to prove key to his future.
Stone first suggested Trump run for president in early 1998, and even worked out of Trump Tower for a while to help him.
He was hired as an adviser when his old ally finally launched a bid for the White House nearly two decades later.
But he was pushed out in a power struggle which left him on the outside looking in – and phoning Trump with his advice and also apparently bragging of his connections to WikiLeaks.
Outside the campaign he accused Ted Cruz of having had affairs with five women; Cruz shot back that he was a ‘ratf***er’ and claimed he was ‘pulling the strings on Donald Trump.’
But inside Trump Tower, there was a different, and for Stone sadder, picture emerging.
Stone went on to work for several more presidential campaigns including Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush and his longtime friend Donald Trump
Roger Jason Stone Jr grew up in Lewisboro, New York, to a blue-collar Catholic family and where his zeal for politics was apparent from a young age (pictured with Paul Manafort and Lee Atwater)
Senior Campaign figures hinted that the silver-haired Svengali’s influence was waning by the time WikiLeaks threw the 2016 Presidential race into turmoil.
Rick Gates said Stone still had access to senior Trump figures despite having left his position but the relationship had become ‘tense.’
And Steve Bannon admitted in his testimony that he derived enjoyment from ‘heckling’ Stone when his big Julian Assange predictions fell flat.
In the past, a Republican presidency had been a sure-fire payday for Stone but this time round his association with Trump was toxic and expensive.
He found work with InfoWars, an apt home for a man who had pushed conspiracy theories for decades, and a regular place on the speaking circuit.
But the Mueller inquiry brought massive legal bills – and even then expensive legal counsel did not stop him committing a massive blunder in 2017: lying to Congress.
Despite that Stone was predicting right up until January of this year that he would evade Robert Mueller’s prosecutors, sneering in an exclusive DailyMail.com interview: ‘They got nothing.’
Three weeks later he found himself in handcuffs when rifle-wielding FBI agents surrounded his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home in the middle of the night to take him into custody.
In the past, a Republican presidency had been a sure-fire payday for Stone but this time round his association with Trump was toxic and expensive
Stone’s home was raided in the early hours of the morning this year and he was taken into custody
Then, on the steps of the federal courthouse in Broward County, Stone enjoyed perhaps his last hurrah, emerging defiant and unbowed to deliver a scathing diatribe about the Mueller ‘witch-hunt’ while flashing Nixon’s trademark victory signs.
When he followed that up by peddling ‘Roger Stone did nothing wrong’ t-shirts, launching a media tour and posting a mocked-up Instagram image of Judge Amy Berman Jackson in rifle crosshairs, enough was enough.
Berman Jackson responded by slapping Stone with a gag order banning him from speaking about his case in the press or via social media.
When it was their turn to address the trial, defense attorneys chose to play audio of Stone speaking before Congress in 2017 rather than have jurors hear from the man himself.
It was perhaps tacit acceptance that the world had heard quite enough already from Watergate survivor Roger Stone and his vindictive brand of no-holds-barred politics.
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