Facebook reveals new covert efforts to sway 2018 midterm elections

02 August, 2018, 01:22 | Author: Gregory Stephens
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It is believed that the now-removed accounts were set up to exacerbate political tensions in the lead-up to the U.S. midterm elections later this year. This includes both Facebook pages and Instagram accounts. In total, the pages created 9,500 posts on Facebook before they were first detected two weeks ago and later removed, the company said.

Facebook says it is still in early stages of an investigation and is sharing information with US law enforcement and Congress. "We don't have ideal information".

IRA is accused by Facebook and the US Department of Justice of having played a key role in the campaign of hoaxes and fake news on controversial and divisive issues created to try to influence the 2016 election in which Donald Trump won the White House.

In October 2017, the social network admitted that Russia-backed content reached as many as 126 million Americans during the 2016 presidential election.

In the wake of the scandal, Facebook made several changes to its advertising operations.

READ: Who's to blame for that cyberattack?

Facebook executives said they did not have enough technical evidence to link the activity to any specific group at this time. 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.

It said that 290,000 users followed at least one of the accounts. The account was an admin for 7 minutes before it was identified and removed. "Some of the activity is consistent with what we saw from the IRA before and after the 2016 elections".

However, the company added that it had found some connections between these fake accounts and the removed IRA accounts. But there are differences as well, Gleicher said.


"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".

And yes, a sampling of the now-banned Pages reveals a pattern we're all now very much familiar with: encouraging division and attempting to incite real-world action.

▻ The Pages created about 30 events since May 2017.

The Atlantic Council said the Resisters page, which advocated left-wing feminist causes, raised alarms because it was pushing for confrontation at multiple protests, including against supporters of the right-wing "Unite the Right 2" group, raising the potential for violence.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said on a call with reporters that the attempts to manipulate public opinion would likely become more sophisticated to evade Facebook's scrutiny, calling it an "arms race".

Organizers for the protest came from Black Lives Matter DC, according to reports from local news station WTTG.

"We are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week", said Facebook. "We disabled the event and reached out to the legitimate administrators of five other pages to let them know what's happened".

"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. It also said it has shared the information with USA law enforcement agencies, Congress, and other technology companies. Ben Sasse said. "Russia and China understand that successful information operations don't create new problems but exploit existing fissures - that's why Moscow is working to divide Americans by stoking both sides of almost every culture war". Disclosure: Sean's wife works for Facebook as an internal video producer. Based on the information Facebook released, this particular group of fake pages was targeting people on the left.

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