“We removed all of them this morning once we’d completed our initial investigation and shared the information with United States law enforcement agencies, Congress, other technology companies, and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, a research organization that helps us identify and analyze abuse on Facebook”, the statement continued. It gave an example of one page it identified because one of the people behind the earlier 2016 campaign had been an admin of the page for just seven minutes. Rather, the posts appeared created to appeal to different sets of thinking.
One fake page called “Resisters” was involved in coordinating a protest in Washington D.C. on August 10-12.
Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said in a post that the company was still investigating where the pages were run from but that, “Some of the activity is consistent with what we saw from the IRA before and after the 2016 elections”.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., confirmed that Senate Intel staff were briefed this week by Facebook officials. He said it wasn’t clear whether this was the “IRA with improved capabilities or a separate group” based on what the company knows so far.
Facebook is sharing information about the pages and accounts with intelligence officials, and planned to notify members of the social network who expressed interest in attending the counter-protest.
The people behind the accounts removed today, which had a total of 290,000 followers, used virtual private networks (VPNs) to conceal their location and internet phone services to hide their identities.
Facebook said it does not know who controlled the accounts but that they appeared to be fake.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is heading a sprawling investigation into possible collusion with Russian Federation by Trump’s campaign to tip the vote toward the real estate tycoon.
Facebook noted that one IRA tactic was to have its operators engage with legitimate pages and accounts, creating a more dense web. Facebook said that anyone found to have followed one of the fraudulent pages or events has been alerted.
The names Facebook said were given to some of the deleted pages paralleled those of 2016 groups allegedly established by Russian agents to manipulate American voters with particular ethnic, cultural, or political identities.
President Donald Trump has offered mixed messages on Russian interference, at times even calling it a “hoax”.
In a blog post, Facebook revealed it is aware of new “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on the site.
Maybe what Facebook disclosed today is only a molecule in the bucket, and enough will eventually come to light to suggest that “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on Facebook is somehow a problem.
Facebook was bamboozled by the IRA’s coordinated interference before, during and after the 2016 election and is now working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in an attempt to keep its platform from causing issues during the 2018 midterm elections.
First published July 31, 9:41 a.m. PT. Updated, 11:12 p.m. PT: Adds information from Facebook’s conference call with reporters. “We know that Russian Federation is coming back in 2018, 2020, and beyond”.
The coordinated inauthentic activity that Facebook revealed on Tuesday shows that bad actors are determined to influence US politics, sow division and set Americans against each other-regardless of whether they use conservatism or liberalism as conduits.
Today’s announcement is meant to send the message that Facebook is on top of the problem.