Facebook Identifies "Sophisticated Attempt" To Influence Midterms Via Fake Accounts And Pages

A Russian propaganda arm tried to tamper in the 2016 USA election by posting and buying ads on Facebook, according to the company and U.S. intelligence agencies.

And its findings were limited to 32 apparently fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram, which the company removed because they were involved in "coordinated" and "inauthentic" political behavior.

The most followed Facebook Pages were "Aztlan Warriors", "Black Elevation", "Mindful Being" and "Resisters".

According to a Facebook official, the company held briefings in the House and Senate this week.

"I think with pretty high confidence that.this was Russian-related", he said. Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of that committee. "The Russians want a weak America".

The US President Donald Trump, whose 2016 presidential campaign is being investigated over possible collusion with Russian Federation, tweeted on Tuesday 24 June that he is "very concerned that Russian Federation will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election".

"Any attempt to interfere in our elections is an affront to our democracy and it will not be allowed", Pence said at a cybersecurity summit in NY late on July 31. "The United States of America will not tolerate any foreign interference in our elections from any nation state".

FBN's Susan Li on Facebook reporting the uncovered a coordinated political propaganda campaign on the social networking platform.

The Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) was indeed involved in election interference during the 2016 presidential campaign.

After it became clear that Russia-linked actors used social media to try to influence the 2016 USA election, Facebook has stepped up its efforts to ensure that what happened then does not happen again. 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.

"We applaud efforts by our private-sector partners to combat an array of threats that occur in cyberspace, including malign influence", said Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council. The earliest was created in March of a year ago, while the most recent was created this May.

While the details of this latest influence campaign are still murky, Facebook seems to have learned a few things over the course of the last two years.

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

Facebook didn't provide detailed descriptions of those pages.

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

But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week. Facebook wrote in its blog posting that the newly discovered "bad actors" have used VPNs, internet phone services and third parties to run ads and create content, making them harder to track.

"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.

Facebook has notified law enforcement agencies and Congress of the campaign.

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

  • Jon Douglas