World News

Facebook discovers coordinated disinformation operation on its platform

Facebook discovers coordinated disinformation operation on its platform

Facebook has identified an ongoing effort to influence the United States mid-term elections, using inauthentic accounts and pages on the social network.

During the midterms all 435 seats in the US House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be contested.

Facebook in a statement said it had no evidence yet linking the effort to Russia, whose Internet Research Agency was at the center of a series of indictments by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is probing Russian election interference and possible collusion with President Trump's campaign.

It has been unable to tie the accounts to Russian Federation, whose Internet Research Agency was at the center of an indictment earlier this year for interfering in the 2016 election, but company officials told Capitol Hill that Russian Federation was possibly involved, according to two of the officials.

However, Facebook's top security officials said the campaign involved similar "tools, techniques and procedures" employed by the Russian Internet Research Agency during the 2016 campaign.

As CNN reports, Facebook said more that 30 pages were removed, including at least one promoting a fake "Unite the Right" counter protest. The other removed material included eight Facebook pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and seven accounts of the photo-sharing site Instagram. This includes both Facebook pages and Instagram accounts. "We've made it harder for inauthentic actors to operate on Facebook, yet we face determined, well-funded adversaries who won't give up and keep changing their tactics".

Senior executives of Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc.'s Google will testify to the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on September 5, Senator Mark Warner, the committee's Democratic vice chairman, said Wednesday.

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While this particular investigation is still in its early stages, Facebook said it is sharing information with USA law enforcement. Warner also said he hoped Facebook would continue working to identify "Russian troll activity" on the website.

See examples of banned Facebook Pages one-by-one below. The accounts created some 9,500 organic posts and ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram. "These bad actors have been more careful to cover their tracks, in part due to the actions we've taken to prevent abuse over the past year", the company said. And now that they're - that they're talking to people, they're having to actually contact people and say, hey, that rally that you signed up for, it was actually a fake account. In fact, Facebook found connections between some of the new suspicious accounts and previously identified IRA accounts.

Facebook said the accounts removed Monday went to greater links than did past IRA-linked accounts to obscure their true identities.

Facebook was bamboozled by the IRA's coordinated interference before, during and after the 2016 election and is now working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an attempt to keep its platform from causing issues during the 2018 midterm elections. Sandberg said on the call that Facebook wanted to disclose its findings on the coordinated campaign because of the timing of the event.

Added Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the panel, "Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation".

Having completed its initial investigation into the effort, Facebook said it has shared its findings with USA law enforcement agencies, Congress, other technology companies, and the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab - a research organization it recently enlisted to help identify and analyze such abuses.


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