Facebook Pulls Fake Accounts That Mimic Russian Tactics Ahead of Election

02 August, 2018, 01:28 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • 039;Hilarious & paranoid': Lavrov laughs at idea that Russia uses memes to destroy US democracy

Facebook has discovered a new campaign of "inauthentic behavior" that's used dozens of Facebook pages and accounts, and $11,000 worth of ads, to promote political causes prior to the United States midterm elections, the social network said Tuesday.

In a blog post from the head of Facebook's cybersecurity policy, the company says that those accounts were "involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior" but that their investigation had not yielded definitive information about who was behind the effort.

Publicly, Facebook is saying it does not know for sure who was behind the network, but is saying it has "found evidence of some connections between these accounts" and accounts that had been run by Russian trolls in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

According to the networking site, they identified a coordinated political influence campaign through these inauthentic Facebook accounts.

The most popular of the now-banned Pages include Aztlan Warriors, Black Elevation, Mindful Being, and Resisters. They spent $11,000 (£8,400) on 150 Facebook and Instagram ads, the last of which was created last month. They were paid for in American and Canadian dollars. The first ad was created in April 2017, and the last was created in June 2018.

A weekly recap of the top political stories from The Globe, sent right to your email. He said the company had yet to see any evidence connecting the accounts to Russian IP addresses, like the ones sometimes used in the past by Internet Research Agency accounts.

During a media briefing today, Facebook's chief information security officer Alex Stamos said the network behind these accounts did more to hide their identities than the Russia-backed Internet Research Agency did in 2016, including using VPNs and internet phone services, and paying third parties to place ads on their behalf. The company has been working with the FBI to investigate the activity.

Facebook disclosed in September that Russians under fake names had used the social network to try to influence USA voters in the months before and after the 2016 election, writing about divisive issues, setting up events and buying ads.

"Legitimate pages helped build interest in 'No Unite the Right 2, '" said Gleicher, noting pages posted information about transportation so people could attend the demonstration.

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Facebook said over 290,000 users followed at least one of the pages, the earliest of which was created in March 2017. About half had fewer than 100 accounts interested in attending.

Citing unnamed sources, The New York Times reported that other "coordinated" activity revolved around #AbolishICE, a left-wing campaign against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

"Any attempt to interfere in our elections is an affront to our democracy and it will not be allowed", Pence said at a cybersecurity summit in NY late on July 31. Is Facebook taking a step in the right direction in combatting the spread of misinformation?

U.S. intelligence agencies have also concluded that Russian state operators used fake social media accounts in an attempt to interfere with the campaign. After being caught flat-footed by the IRA's efforts ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Facebook has expanded its security team, hired counterterrorism experts and recruited workers with government security clearances.

The company has hired thousands of new security staff, partnered with research organizations, and improved its artificial intelligence tools for detecting disinformation.

The names Facebook said were given to some of the deleted pages paralleled those of 2016 groups allegedly established by Russian agents to manipulate American voters with particular ethnic, cultural, or political identities.

A Russian propaganda arm tried to tamper in the 2016 USA election by posting and buying ads on Facebook, according to the company and US intelligence agencies. "Thing are still very early so we're continuing to work on that", Mr. Gleicher said.

"We think it's inevitable that we will find evidence, and we will find other actors, whether these are from Russian Federation, from other countries, or domestic actors that are looking to continue to try and abuse the platform", Gleicher said.

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