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Facebook discovers coordinated disinformation operation on its platform

Xinhua
Facebook announced its security unit has found a coordinated campaign on its platform aiming to exert political influence ahead of the upcoming US mid-term elections.
Xinhua

Facebook announced Tuesday that its security unit has found a coordinated campaign on its platform aiming to exert political influence ahead of the upcoming US mid-term elections in the next few months.

The world's largest social media network said it has removed 32 Pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram for being "involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior."

Facebook said this kind of behavior is banned on the platform because it does not want "people or organizations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they're doing."

"About two weeks ago we identified the first of eight Pages and 17 profiles on Facebook, as well as seven Instagram accounts, that violate our ban on coordinated inauthentic behavior," said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook.

Facebook said it does not know who were behind these accounts, but it believes that well-funded adversaries will never give up using the platform to spread false information out of specific political purposes.

The social media giant had accused last year the Russian-based Internet Research Agency of setting up bogus accounts to interfere in the US presidential elections in 2016.

Facebook said it found more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these Pages, the earliest of which was created in March 2017. The latest was created in May 2018.

"They ran about 150 ads for approximately US$11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in US and Canadian dollars," it said.

Facebook determined that those pages have created about 30 events since May 2017, and the largest had approximately 4,700 accounts interested in attending, and 1,400 users said that they would attend.

It said the "bad actors" were trying hard to hide themselves and cover their tracks by using VPNs, Internet phone services and third parties to run ads on their behalf, to avoid Facebook's efforts to prevent abuse or clean online environment.

Facebook admits that it is still in the very early stage of its investigations, but it vows to continue the probe and cooperate with outside experts and law enforcement authorities to remove such online threat.


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