Facebook Removes 32 Pages, Accounts Deemed Fake

Aug 02, 2018, 01:31
Facebook Removes 32 Pages, Accounts Deemed Fake

Facebook officials on a call with reporters said one known account from Russia's Internet Research Agency was a co-administrator of one of the fake pages for seven minutes, but the company did not believe that was enough evidence to attribute the campaign to the Russian government.

Facebook said it deleted pages such as Resisters after it found they violate a ban on coordinated inauthentic behavior.

Facebook said law enforcement officials and Congress have been notified about the company's actions and provided with the information Facebook gathered to trigger the removal.

"The goal of these operations is to sow discord, distrust, and division", said Senator Richard Burr, the committee's chairman.

Washington imposed punitive sanctions on Russia following US intelligence agency conclusions that Moscow interfered to undermine the 2016 US elections, one of the reasons US-Russian relations are at a post-Cold War low. But he said that Democrats, not his fellow Republicans, would be the ones targeted.

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said that Trump "has made it clear his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our electoral process from any nation state or other malicious actors".

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But Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer accused the White House of "not doing close to enough" to "shield" USA voters from such foreign influence efforts.

Facebook today revealed that, just in time for the American midterm elections, it's uncovered a new spate of fake news pages guilty of "coordinated inauthentic behavior".

Facebook added that those who set up the fake accounts went to "much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past". One of them, called "No Unite the Right 2 - DC", was scheduled in Washington for August 10 as a counter-protest to a "Unite the Right" in the same city. One event, aimed at challenging the now-canceled "Unite The Right 2" rally, attracted 2,600 signups before it was shut down.

"We think it's inevitable that we will find evidence, and we will find other actors, whether these are from Russian Federation, from other countries, or domestic actors that are looking to continue to try and abuse the platform", Gleicher said. The earliest was created in March of past year, while the most recent was created this May.

Facebook says it has uncovered sophisticated efforts to influence USA politics on its platforms.

The Silicon Valley darling will never stop being a target for those who wish to manipulate people. The examples included anti-Trump material and racially-charged posts, as well as a feminist post, although Facebook did not say if they were representative of the output of the accounts as a whole.

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Facebook said the suspect accounts had also run about 150 ads on Facebook and Instagram, costing a total of $11,000 (£8,300). The first ad was created in April 2017, and the last was created in June 2018.

Facebook said it does not know who is behind the efforts, but said there may be connections to Russian Federation and that the pages and accounts were connected to protests planned in Washington next week.

They also used third parties to publish paid advertisements on Facebook, in violation of the social media firm's policies banning foreign entities from buying US political ads. "And we've found evidence of some connections between these accounts and IRA accounts we disabled previous year".

The New York Times reported the company was working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the investigation.

US intelligence and law enforcement officials have been warning for months that Russia's efforts to undermine USA democracy remain active and pose a threat to this year's elections.

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

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Facebook singled out the Atlantic Council, a globalist think tank whose members include Henry Kissinger and Dina Powell, for helping them identify "bad actors" on the social network.