Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Facebook notes "coordinated political influence campaign"

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen address the Department of Homeland Security National Cybersecurity Summit Tuesday Related story Homeland Security sets up new center to guard against cyberattacks
Ellis Copeland | 02 August, 2018, 13:20

Laura Rosenberger, who directs the Alliance for Securing Democracy at The German Marshall Fund of the United States, said that tech companies need to share information and detail nefarious activities they are seeing and curtail them.

After being caught flat-footed by the IRA's efforts ahead of the 2016 presidential election, Facebook has expanded its security team, hired counterterrorism experts and recruited workers with government security clearances.

Special counsel Robert Mueller later indicted the IRA for its "strategic goal to sow discord in the US political system". The Resisters page partnered with five authentic USA progressive groups to organize an August 10 rally marking the one-year anniversary of the deadly white nationalist "Unite the Rally" in Charlottesville, Virginia, Facebook announced.

Facebook said it does not know who controlled the accounts but that they appeared to be fake.

"One of my top priorities for 2018 is to prevent misuse of Facebook", Zuckerberg said on his own Facebook page.

Facebook's statement reads: "This kind of behaviour is not allowed on Facebook because we don't want people or organisations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they're doing".

"It's clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency has in the past". The perpetrators in this case took more trouble to cover their tracks, using VPNs and third-party companies to post the ads, so it'd be hard to say with certainty who implemented the campaign.

The counter-protest event created by the Resisters page. The remaining Pages had between zero and ten followers, and the Instagram accounts had zero followers.

According to The New York Times, which first reported the news, these accounts have engaged in a "coordinated political influence campaign". The company will hold a conference call later on Tuesday.

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A man who identified himself as an administrator of Resisters, Washington activist Brendan Orsinger, said on a video call with Reuters that he had been invited to help operate the page by someone he knew only through Facebook messages.

Facebook said more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these phony pages, which used names such as Aztlan Warriors, Black Elevation, Mindful Being and Resisters.

The social media giant said the accounts were responsible for almost 10,000 posts and had spent $11,000 on 150 ads in the past year focused on controversial social issues such as white supremacist marches and immigration policies.

The ads were paid for in both US and Canadian dollars, starting in April 2017 and ending in June 2018.

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.

Some of the content published Tuesday by Facebook was racially loaded, and some of it was anti-Trump.

In all Facebook said it shut down and removed 32 accounts and pages.

Facebook, however, admitted in a blog post that it was in the "very early stages" of its investigation and didn't have "all the facts" about the newly discovered accounts.

It said the "bad actor" accounts on the world's biggest social network and its photo-sharing site Instagram could not be tied to Russian actors, who U.S. officials say used the platform to spread disinformation ahead of the 2016 presidential election in the United States. But what they are saying is that these accounts are way more sophisticated than the accounts that allegedly interfered in the 2016 USA presidential election.

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