Facebook IDs a new influence campaign before 2018 midterm elections

Facebook said Tuesday it had shut down more than 30 fake pages and accounts involved in what appeared to be "sophisticated" attempts to sway public opinion on political issues ahead of November midterm elections, but can not identify the source. It's not clear what exactly would have happened if the pages weren't deleted beforehand, but we know what happened when Facebook didn't intervene with similar accounts during the lead up to the 2016 presidential election: the accounts fanned the flames of dissent, pushed Americans farther towards extreme views, and cemented those beliefs with confirmation bias. The pages had created about 30 events since May 2017.

The company is working with the F.B.I.to investigate the activity.

These are important details, but on their own insufficient to support a firm determination, as we have also seen examples of authentic political groups interacting with IRA content in the past.

The coordinated inauthentic activity that Facebook revealed on Tuesday shows that bad actors are determined to influence USA politics, sow division and set Americans against each other-regardless of whether they use conservatism or liberalism as conduits. Facebook discovered coordinated activity around issues such as a sequel to last year's deadly "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

After it became clear that Russia-linked actors used social media to try to influence the 2016 USA election, Facebook has escalated countermeasures meant to prevent a repeat. The event, called "No Unite The Right 2 - DC", a counterprotest of a far-right rally, attracted several hundred users who said they were interested in it or planned to attend, Facebook said.

Mr. Mueller's indictment of a dozen Russians last month provided another thread, according to Facebook.

While Facebook still hasn't determined who created the pages, Sen. Explaining the removal of pages from its platform, the Facebook said that they won't allow this kind of behaviour as they don't want any organisation, people to create a network of accounts which could mislead people. In February, the U.S. Justice Department indicted 13 Russian nationals, and the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, for interfering in the 2016 U.S. election.

The most popular pages had names like "Aztlan Warriors", "Mindful Being", and "Black Elevation", with one of the pages having more than 290,000 followers.

Company officials refused to link the latest suspicious accounts and pages to Russian actors, but said the most recent activity involved some of the same tactics employed by the Internet Research Agency, Russian-backed troll farm named in a federal indictment into political interference in the 2016 USA presidential election.

The company said it made a decision to alert the public early in its investigation because one event promoted to protest the Unite the Right 2 Rally was scheduled to take place on August 10 in Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, wrote in a company blog post that his team couldn't say for sure who was behind the new campaign.

These so-called "bad actors" also shared memes criticizing colonialism and sexism, and paid third parties to run ads on their behalf, according to Facebook. "It's an arms race and we need to constantly improve too", it puffed itself up in one of the three posts on the issue. It said that the company has shared the information with United States law enforcement agencies, Congress, other technology companies, and the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab.

The company said the pages ran 150 ads for a total of approximately $11,000.


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