Creepy Facebook influence campaign targeted liberal activists, aimed for offline events

Aug 02, 2018, 01:33
Creepy Facebook influence campaign targeted liberal activists, aimed for offline events

Facebook says it has uncovered "sophisticated" efforts, possibly linked to Russian Federation, to influence U.S. politics on its platforms.

Facebook said that the banned accounts and pages were more sophisticated in covering their tracks than previously-suspended pages that have been linked to Russian Federation.

The coordinators of a deadly white-supremacist event in Charlottesville a year ago reportedly have been given a permit to hold a rally near the White House on August 12, the anniversary of the 2017 gathering.

Samples of the inauthentic accounts' posts released by Facebook touch on hot-button political issues, but they don't reference 2018 political candidates.

The Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab worked with Facebook to find the political influence efforts on its web pages and viewed the "fake" accounts cited by Facebook before they were removed.

Facebook stopped short of saying the effort was aimed at influencing the U.S. midterm elections in November, although the timing of the suspicious activity would be consistent with such an attempt. Regardless of the effort put forth by Menlo Park engineers and security researchers, Facebook - with its 2 billion monthly users and powerful micro-targeting tools - will forever be too tempting of a target for those looking to, say, sway an election.

But after Facebook's announcement, the White House stressed Trump opposed all efforts at election interference. Admins for the page connected with the admins of five legitimate pages to promote the event and post logistical information for protesters. There was also an effort to amplify the "Abolish ICE" message pushed by liberals, the source said.

Facebook discovered the accounts by "following up on thousands of leads, including information from law enforcement and lessons we learned from last year's IRA investigation", it said. The most followed Facebook Pages were "Aztlan Warriors", "Black Elevation", "Mindful Being", and "Resisters".

While the platform has not confirmed this new raft of fake pages was operated by Russian operatives, it did say their broad pattern of behaviour matched the manoeuvres of the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency - the operation accused of injecting troubling content into Facebook before the 2016 election. "We face sophisticated and well-funded adversaries, including nation states, that are always evolving and trying new attacks".

Gleicher said the creators of these inauthentic accounts went to great lengths to disguise their identities, employing virtual public networks and internet phone services.

While this particular investigation is still in its early stages, Facebook said it is sharing information with US law enforcement.

"Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation", Warner said in a statement Tuesday.

Facebook also said it has reported its findings to law enforcement and will continue to search for other fake accounts. The accounts had about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram.

The company said it found 32 "fake" accounts on Facebook and Instagram, which it said it removed because they were involved in "coordinated" and "inauthentic" political behavior.

The investigation is at an early stage, revealed now because one of the pages being covertly operated was orchestrating a real-world counter-protest to a "Unite the Right" event in Washington, DC, on August 10.

"We've always known security's an arms race", said Sandberg.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
  • McConnell dismisses talk of government shutdown

    McConnell dismisses talk of government shutdown

    Mexico has refused, leading Trump to look to USA taxpayers to fund the endeavor instead, at least for now. They do, however, have the strength to derail legislation in the closely divided Senate.

    Spy agencies suspect NKorea building new missiles

    On Tuesday, North and South Korean athletes trained together in rowing and canoeing in southern South Korea. The ministry said on Monday it's it has been consistently cooperating with the commission's requests.
    Arsenal: Capable of Winning the Premier League Title?

    Arsenal: Capable of Winning the Premier League Title?

    With plenty of points to be won and lost, the title race is still very much on and Arsenal will be confident of bridging the gap. Defensively, Arsenal have improved since Shkodran Mustafi joined the club in the summer but there is still room for improvement.
  • U.S.  judge blocks ‘crazy’ release of 3D gun blueprints amid uproar

    U.S. judge blocks ‘crazy’ release of 3D gun blueprints amid uproar

    As a result, the state attorneys are also suing the Trump administration for making the settlement with Wilson. They were not named as defendants in the lawsuit brought by the Washington state attorney general.
    Google starts rolling out dark mode for YouTube on Android devices

    Google starts rolling out dark mode for YouTube on Android devices

    Still, it's nice to see some variation within the app, especially since it hasn't received a design update for a long time. But you can always go to the General Settings options to toggle it on or off at will as Redditor Absinth92 indicates.
    Mugabe speaks on Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa first time since ouster

    Mugabe speaks on Zimbabwe, Mnangagwa first time since ouster

    She said: "The lines and voter enthusiasm we are seeing must be matched by an accurate count and their choice must be honoured". On Sunday, Mr Mugabe, who first came to power after independence in 1980, said he would not vote for his successor .
  • The case of San Antonio's stolen shark is solved

    The case of San Antonio's stolen shark is solved

    She was put into a bucket of water, which was then put onto a stroller to make it look as if the fish was a young child. But, to the surprise of police and aquarium staff, the shark was in good health when it was returned Monday night.

    Jose Mourinho heavily criticizes Manchester United after pre-season loss

    As it stands, Martial is likelier to be a United player at the end of the window. It is our nature and our way to always want more for your team.
    Nascar eSports Future of Racing?

    Nascar eSports Future of Racing?

    Just like modern stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have made soccer all the more popular in the United States of America. Still unsure? The series has been shown online since 2010, and the demand to watch it shows the growth is likely to continue.
  • Donald Trump says he’s open to meeting Iranian president with ‘no preconditions’

    Donald Trump says he’s open to meeting Iranian president with ‘no preconditions’

    A phone call between Rouhani and former President Obama in 2013 was the first direct conversation of any kind in decades. Another round, covering other types of commerce, including oil purchases, goes into effect on November 4.

    Hundreds of Trump supporters and foes gather early ahead of Tampa rally

    Trump said he spends a lot of time in Florida and only sees Nelson when it is election season. "I appreciate your support, Mr. President Donald Trump is jumping into the Florida governor's race by endorsing GOP candidate Ron DeSantis for the job.
    Drug cartel puts price on dog's head after cocaine bust

    Drug cartel puts price on dog's head after cocaine bust

    Colombia is one of the world's leading producers of cocaine , with an output of around 910 tonnes per year, according to the U.S. But even with advanced technology, experts say on-the-ground detective work like that performed by Sombra is critical.
popular