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m3n4.net October 15, 2018


Facebook finds 'sophisticated' efforts to disrupt USA politics

02 August 2018, 01:33 | Tara Lloyd

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Some accounts had connections to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) - the Russian-based group that interfered with the 2016 presidential election.

The company says it does not know who is behind the efforts, but said there are may be connections to Russian Federation.

It removed 32 pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in "coordinated inauthentic behaviour", the company said in a statement.

You can read Facebook's series of blog posts about the investigation here. Rather, the posts appeared created to appeal to different sets of thinking.

Among the new accounts were one called "Resisters" which promoted a fake anti-right wing protest in August in Washington D.C.

Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said in a post that the company was still investigating where the pages were run from but that, "Some of the activity is consistent with what we saw from the IRA before and after the 2016 elections".

"This is an absolute attack on our democracy", said Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, whose members received a briefing about the findings from Facebook.

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Unfortunately, the company said the identity of those creating the bogus posts remains unclear.

These so-called "bad actors" also shared memes criticizing colonialism and sexism, and paid third parties to run ads on their behalf, according to Facebook. It's why we're investing heavily in more people and better technology to prevent bad actors misusing Facebook - as well as working much more closely with law enforcement and other tech companies to better understand the threats we face.

After it became clear that Russia-linked actors used social media to try to influence the 2016 US election, Facebook has stepped up its efforts to ensure that what happened then does not happen again.

U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's indictment early this year revealed that Russia-backed actors coordinated and staged offline events-including one where Americans were hired to build a cage atop a flatbed truck with someone in a Hillary Clinton costume to promote the idea that she should be imprisoned.

It said that there were more than 9,500 Facebook posts created by the accounts and one piece of content on Instagram.

A man who identified himself as an administrator of Resisters, Washington activist Brendan Orsinger, said on a video call with Reuters that he had been invited to help operate the page by someone he knew only through Facebook messages. They also did not say whether any of the activity mentioned specific candidates or politicians, and were careful to say that Facebook is not "publicly" linking the activity to any group or government.

But after Facebook's announcement, the White House stressed Trump opposed all efforts at election interference. The Atlantic Council, an outside group assisting Facebook in weeding out inauthentic actors, identified a 4,000-member group allegedly launched by Russian agents but dormant since it was disabled a year ago.

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Still, Facebook said it's possible that this latest campaign is actually the IRA with improved techniques.

A Russian propaganda arm tried to tamper in the 2016 United States election by posting and buying ads on Facebook, according to the company and USA intelligence agencies.

Facebook has notified law enforcement agencies and Congress of the campaign. "We know that Russian Federation is coming back in 2018, 2020, and beyond".

So, too, does the new undertaking; the new batch of most popular pages include "Aztlan Warriors", "Black Elevation", "Mindful Being", and "Resisters".

So what are these Facebook and Instagram accounts that engaged in "coordinated inauthentic behavior"?

This time, though, the pages Facebook found focused "exclusively at engaging and influencing the left end of the American political spectrum", according to the Atlantic Council researchers.

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