Facebook says it identifies campaign to meddle in 2018 U.S

Facebook says it identifies campaign to meddle in 2018 U.S

Kerry Wise
August 2, 2018

In a statement July 31, Facebook said those removed had violated company policy barring "inauthentic coordinated behavior". "I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activities and to work with Congress on updating our laws to better protect our democracy in the future".

Facebook has been grappling with continuing public backlash for being slow to recognise Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election, along with widespread concerns over its past data-sharing practices. The company's stock has plunged more than 20 per cent since last week, after it reported slower user growth and rising costs for security and safety programs to crack down on abuse of its platform. This is the kind of thing we apparently are expected to get exercised about, but if "bad actors" can't do orders of magnitude more than this, they are trivial.

Sandberg said on the call that Facebook wanted to disclose its findings on the coordinated campaign because of the timing of the event.

"It's clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the [run up to the 2016 presidential election]", the company said in a statement.

However, Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement tying the latest Facebook activity directly to Russian Federation.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), on the Senate's Intelligence Committee, is already responding to demand changes in laws to censor these campaigns: "Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity".

The social media giant said it removed 32 accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in "co-ordinated" behaviour and appeared to be fake. In all, 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the pages, which had names like "Aztlan Warriors", "Black Elevation" and "Resisters".

Facebook noted that one IRA tactic was to have its operators engage with legitimate pages and accounts, creating a more dense web.

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One fake page called "Resisters" was involved in coordinating a protest in Washington D.C. on August 10-12.

Facebook discovered coordinated activity around issues like a sequel to last year's deadly "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

It said the "bad actor" accounts on the world's biggest social network and its photo-sharing site Instagram could not be tied directly to Russian actors, who American officials say used the platform to spread disinformation ahead of the 2016 USA presidential election.

It said 2,600 people had expressed interest in the event, with 600 planning to attend the protest close to the White House.

Other accounts and pages targeted sensitive issues like immigration, including at least one page involved in organizing an "Abolish ICE". CNN reported Tuesday afternoon that Facebook expressed stronger suspicions of Russian Federation during private briefings with members of Congress.

For example, it said they used virtual private networks and Internet phone services to mask their locations, and paid third parties to run ads on their behalf.

The accounts also spent about $11,000 for 150 ads on Facebook and Instagram.