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Facebook May Have Caught Russians Ahead of Midterms

Facebook May Have Caught Russians Ahead of Midterms

The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab worked with Facebook to find the political influence efforts on its web pages and viewed the "fake" accounts cited by Facebook before they were removed.

The social network published examples of posts from the accounts. Most left fewer clues to their identities behind, and appear to have taken pains not to post too much authored content.

Trump later amended that, saying he was "very concerned" about Russian interference in the election.

Burr said the goal of influence operations "is to sow discord, distrust, and division in an attempt to undermine public faith in our institutions and our political system".

For instance, the "Resisters" page created a Facebook Event for a protest in Washington, D.C. on August 10 through 12, enlisting the support of real people. This afternoon, we'll begin informing the approximately 2,600 users interested in the event, and the more than 600 users who said they'd attend, about what happened. Almost 300,000 people followed at least one of the newly banned accounts and thousands expressed interest in events they promoted.

Memes: The fake accounts created pages which were clearly designed to be shareable. Facebook said it had disabled the event and was in the process of contacting almost 2,600 people who had said they were interested in attending.

Facebook says it has found some connections between the accounts it removed and the accounts connected to Russia's Internet Research Agency that it removed before and after the 2016 USA presidential elections. We believe this could be partly due to changes we've made over the past year to make this kind of abuse much harder.

The size of this latest, and now shutdown, campaign is smaller than the 2016 effort - possibly because whoever was behind it was testing the waters - and Facebook noted that the perpetrators has hidden their identities by using VPNs and paying third parties to run ads. None had Russian IP addresses, the unique number ever computer or server has which allows its location to be discovered.

Facebook has had to delete fake accounts after suffering the worst single-day evaporation of market value for any company, after missing revenue forecasts for the second quarter and offering soft growth projections.

One of the administrators for a fake account was associated with "known IRA assets", whose access to Facebook was terminated seven minutes later.

According to The New York Times, which first reported the news, these accounts have engaged in a "coordinated political influence campaign".




The now-removed Facebook pages generated more than 9,500 organic posts and were followed by 290,000 other accounts, according to the tech giant.

It said it had removed 32 pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram, part of an effort to combat foreign meddling in US elections.

The accounts also spent about $11,000 for 150 ads on Facebook and Instagram. They were live between April 2017 and June 2018. The pages had created about 30 events since May 2017.

It's unclear if anyone actually rocked up to one of those events.

The actors behind the accounts were more careful to hide their true identities than the Internet Research Agency had been in the past, Facebook said.

In a statement, Facebook said it had identified 32 pages and accounts on both Facebook and Instagram - which the company also owns - that were "involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior".

On the call, Facebook executives said they are sharing the evidence they found with law enforcement, which can help make a determination about the groups' motive and impact.

The perpetrators in this case took more trouble to cover their tracks, using VPNs and third-party companies to post the ads, so it'd be hard to say with certainty who implemented the campaign.

Facebook said that the banned accounts and pages were more sophisticated in covering their tracks than previously-suspended pages that have been linked to Russian Federation.

Stung after being duped by the Russian Internet research Agency before and after the 2016 presidential election, the social networking platform ratcheted up its efforts to root out cyberfraud.

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