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Facebook discovers coordinated political influence campaign ahead of midterm elections

02 August 2018

Some accounts had connections to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) - the Russian-based group that interfered with the 2016 presidential election. And they're also pointing to this idea that there were a lot of different events that were taking place while these pages were happening. "The Russians want a weak America", said Sen.

"I think with pretty high confidence that.this was Russian-related", he said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been under intense pressure to identify and root out fake political accounts.

The social media giant said the accounts were responsible for almost 10,000 posts and had spent $11,000 on 150 ads in the past year focused on controversial social issues such as white supremacist marches and immigration policies.

"Today's announcement from Facebook demonstrates what we've long feared: that malicious foreign actors bearing the hallmarks of previously-identified Russian influence campaigns continue to abuse and weaponise social media platforms to influence the United States electorate", Schiff said.

Among the techniques used to cover their trails were virtual private networks, and internet phone services. Almost 300,000 people followed at least one of the accounts.

On a conference call with reporters in July, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, declined to directly answer questions about whether the company had detected additional Russian information campaigns.

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. Facebook's shares promptly dropped nearly 20 percent and haven't recovered. It publicly said it had 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 officials briefed on the matter. The accounts seemed focused on building up an online audience and moving it to offline events, such as protests.

Facebook said Tuesday it shut down more than 30 fake pages.

Facebook creates new China subsidiary despite ban and censorship
Google , whose main services are also blocked in China, has likewise taken steps to expand its presence in China this year. Looking ahead, Facebook, which hasn't commented publicly about the China reversal, could still try to open the hub.

For example, after the Resisters account created a Facebook event for a protest on 10 to 12 August called "No Unite the Right 2", five other page owners offered to co-host the demonstration and posted details about transportation and locations.

So, too, does the new undertaking; the new batch of most popular pages include "Aztlan Warriors", "Black Elevation", "Mindful Being", and "Resisters".

In its statement, Facebook showed one of the fake pages it identified to be promoting a left-wing rally in the hopes of attracting participants, offline.

Facebook didn't provide detailed descriptions of those pages.

The Silicon Valley darling will never stop being a target for those who wish to manipulate people.

Today's announcement is meant to send the message that Facebook is on top of the problem.

They paid for around 150 advertisements, at a total cost of $11,000, some of which also ran on Instagram. The money was paid in USA and Canadian dollars from April 2017 to June 2018.

Speaking more about the removal of pages, Facebook said that it identified these inauthentic pages active on its platform as part of its investigation in the election interference.

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said more work needs to be done before the midterm elections.

Facebook discovers coordinated political influence campaign ahead of midterm elections