Facebook has suspended five accounts for spreading misleading information during the special election in Alabama in 2017, including that of Jonathon Morgan, CEO of social media research firm New Knowledge.
"We've recently removed five accounts run by multiple individuals for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook around the Alabama special election, and our investigation is ongoing," a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider. "We take a strong stand against people or organizations that create networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are or what they're doing."
The news was first reported by The Washington Post.
Morgan previously told The Washington Post that he created a misleading Facebook page for conservatives and bought Twitter retweets "to measure the potential 'lift' of political messages" as part of an experiment with misleading online tactics during the election, which involved Republican Roy Moore and Democrat Doug Jones.
He said his intent was not to affect the election's results, but to better understand online disinformation.
Morgan's efforts, however, were made alongside another campaign that attempted to use social media to destabilize Moore's campaign. According to The New York Times, a Democratically supported social media campaign promoted a Republican write-in candidate and created false evidence that Twitter bots were backing Moore.
In a statement released on Twitter earlier this week, Morgan said:
"My involvement in the project described in The New York Times was as a cyber-security researcher and expert with the intention to better understand and report on the tactics and effects of social media disinformation. I did not participate in any campaign to influence the public and any characterization on the contrary misrepresents the research goals, methods and outcome of the project."
New Knowledge helped the government discover how Russian agents used social media to share fake news during the 2016 election and after Trump was elected, the Post reported.