A recent report claims that the Facebook page “Vets for Trump” was hijacked by foreign actors — and Facebook did very little to help the original owners reclaim the page.
The Washington Post published an article recently titled “The Facebook page ‘Vets for Trump’ was hijacked by a North Macedonian businessman. It took months for the owners to get it back.” which outlines how the owners of a Facebook page where former U.S. service members proclaimed their support of President Donald Trump were locked out of the page and the issues they had regaining access to their page.
The page, which had more than 100,000 followers, was hijacked in March by a North Macedonian businessman. The American page owners, which included Vlad Lemets, a U.S. Army veteran who lives in Florida, sat and watched as the page they had grown was hijacked by foreign actors. They quickly reached out to Facebook for help but found that the Masters of the Universe were not willing to provide much assistance.
Kristofer Goldsmith, the chief investigator for Vietnam Veterans of America, explained why pages related to veterans are more likely to be the target of foreign actors: “Veterans as a cohort are more likely than others to participate in democracy. That includes not only voting but running for office and getting others to vote,” making them valuable targets for those looking to influence the political world.
The page shared a number of anti-Democrat memes during the takeover by the North Macedonian man and began requesting donations from users. When one woman named Laura offered the page a $25 donation in memory of her late father, a page administrator directed her to a PayPal account linked to a North Macedonian website that was known for spreading partisan stories to American audiences during the 2016 presidential election.
Vets for Trump administrator and co-founder Vlad Lemets claims that he reached out to Facebook for help on numerous occasions: “I’ve been writing Facebook letters saying, ‘I have a problem, I have a problem, I have a problem,” but received little support. “This could have been easily avoided if Facebook had just listened,” he said.
Facebook stated that it replied to one of the notes from Lemets in April but did not get a response to its request for further information. Jennifer Martinez, a Facebook spokeswoman, stated: “For many groups, their Pages are an essential way to connect, and this particular instance is an unfortunate abuse of what they’ve worked to build.”