PayPal terminated accounts linked to Russian influence operation that hid behind a fake news website

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PayPal has terminated multiple accounts linked to a recently uncovered Russian influence operation that is said to have paid US and British writers for content aimed at influencing progressives and sowing discord in the West, Business Insider has learned.

On Tuesday, Facebook announced it was suspending a page linked to the website Peace Data following a tip from the FBI. In a statement, the company linked the site to “individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency,” a troll farm that the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded sought to sow discord in the US and aid the 2016 Trump campaign.

The site published an array of content from established freelance journalists, some of it pushing an obvious geopolitical agenda, including a piece portraying the popular uprising in Belarus, a Russian ally, as little more than a “regime change puppet” of the West.

A writer for the site told an International Media on Tuesday that he was duped by the promise of a steady platform and decent money: $200 an article, or so was the promise delivered in a direct message on Twitter.

In actuality, the site’s operators paid only $100 an article, the writer said, providing Business Insider a screenshot of PayPal transactions. Another writer also confirmed receiving $100 via the online-payment website. Each transaction was linked to a separate Gmail account.

PayPal, after being provided a list of accounts on its site linked to Russian activity, said it had picked up on suspicious activity associated with the accounts, which have now been terminated.

“PayPal has been actively investigating this matter and we have taken swift action to restrict the accounts in question,” a company representative said in a statement to Business Insider.