NORTH CAROLINA (CNN) — The Facebook page “North Carolina Breaking News” contained some posts touting good deeds by police officers in the city of Winston-Salem. But the officers named in the posts didn’t exist.
The acts of kindness actually had happened — but years earlier and in other states, when real law enforcement professionals helped an injured dog and bought a car seat for a parent who couldn’t afford one.
When the Winston-Salem Police Department reached out this week to the page’s administrator, a response came back in Russian, Lt. John Morris told CNN. Elsewhere on the page recently was a Russian translation of a story first published by a small North Carolina newspaper.
Facebook, which has faced stiff criticism for how it handles false content, removed the “Breaking News” page Tuesday for violating its “spam policy,” a spokesperson told CNN.
The company did not find any evidence the page was connected to coordinated inauthentic activity or to Russia, the spokesperson said, without explaining how it reached that conclusion.
But the doctored stories, sandwiched by reposts of content from legitimate news organizations and partisan websites, raise some bewildering questions, even as public awareness has grown of online disinformation and the Russian trolls fueling some of the untruths.