Facebook Announces It Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign

Facebook Announces It Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign

Facebook said it does not know who controlled the accounts but that they appeared to be fake.

Credit: Frederic Legrand/ShutterstockAccording to the Times, Facebook told lawmakers that it hasn't been able to conclusively tie the accounts to Russian Federation, but that it still believes the country may be involved.

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

The social networking platform said it wasn't sure who was behind the creation of the pages as users had gone to great lengths to hide their identities, after a Russian-based campaign is believed to have tried to disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

"We know that Russians and other bad actors are going to continue to try to abuse our platform - before the midterms, probably during the midterms, after the midterms, and around other events and elections", Gleicher said.

Though the world's biggest social media network has not yet attributed the accounts to any group, it says the campaign does bear some resemblance to the propaganda campaign allegedly run by Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA) in the run-up to the 2016 United States presidential election. 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 also announced it would start notifying users who were interested (around 2,600) and users who said would attend events (around 600) created by one of the suspended accounts and pages.

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"We have found evidence of connections between these accounts and previously identified IRA accounts, but we don't believe the evidence is strong enough at this time to make public attribution to the IRA", Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said during a conference call with reporters.

Counterfeit administrators from a fake page called "Resisters" connected with five legitimate Facebook pages to build interest and share logistical information for counterprotests, Facebook said.

"The most followed Facebook Pages were 'Aztlan Warriors, ' 'Black Elevation, ' 'Mindful Being, ' and 'Resisters, '" Facebook said.

"This kind of behaviour is not allowed on Facebook because we don't want people or organisations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they're doing", the company said in a post.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, refused to answer questions about whether the company had found any more Russian disinformation campaigns.

Samples of the inauthentic activity. Facebook wrote in its blog posting that the newly discovered "bad actors" have used VPNs, internet phone services and third parties to run ads and create content, making them harder to track.

"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 has in the past". Mark Warner (D-Va.), the lead Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is blaming Russian Federation. Russian trolls affiliated with the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency used a combination of paid ads and organic posts to spread misinformation and sow discord among voters ahead of the election. Almost 300,000 people followed at least one of the accounts. The indictment accused the IRA of seeking, in part, "to conduct what it called "information warfare against the United States of America" through fictitious USA personas on social media platforms and other Internet-based media".

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