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Facebook Announces It Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign

Facebook Announces It Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign

Facebook said it had briefed United States law enforcement agencies, Congress and other tech companies about its findings. It says the latest attempt to launder charged political messages on the platform is much more sophisticated than previous interference.

Like the Russian interference campaign in 2016, the recently detected campaign dealt with divisive social issues.

They included an event called "No Unite the Right 2 - DC" that was meant to act as a counter-protest to a white nationalist gathering next month, and posts based around the hashtag #AbolishICE - a campaign to scrap the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency over its controversial policy of separating children from their parents at the USA border.

"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. In its blog post, Facebook warned that it faces "determined, well-funded adversaries who will never give up" and who are "constantly changing tactics". It has been unable to tie the accounts to Russian Federation, whose Internet Research Agency was at the centre 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, Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the US Senate Intelligence Committee, issued a statement tying the latest Facebook activity directly to Russian Federation.

"Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation", he said. It's one of thirty total events the pages have organized, said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, some of which have already taken place.

The most popular of the now-banned Pages include Aztlan Warriors, Black Elevation, Mindful Being, and Resisters.

The accounts, which were followed by over 290,000 Facebook users, were created between March 2017 and May 2018, the social media giant said.

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▻ There were more than 9,500 organic posts created by these accounts on Facebook and one piece of content on Instagram.

"Legitimate pages helped build interest in 'No Unite the Right 2, '" said Gleicher, noting pages posted information about transportation so people could attend the demonstration.

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

Next week's event was not the only event the pages created. 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. The movement to get rid of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency tasked with deporting undocumented immigrants, has become a rallying cry for some Democrats.

This included using virtual private networks (VPNs) to hide their location, and using third parties to run ads on their behalf.

There was plenty of reaction across social media to Facebook's decision to remove the accounts. $11,000 in ads? That is practically zero, by Facebook standards.

"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 told the Times.


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