Facebook Says It Removed Pages Involved In Deceptive Political Influence Campaign

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Facebook has found dozens of fake accounts and pages attempting to influence the 2018 midterm elections, the company announced Tuesday.

Facebook A protest in Washington, D.C., scheduled to August 10-12 was organized by the "Resisters" Facebook page, which Facebook says was involved in "coordinated inauthentic activity".

We're told 17 profiles and eight pages in all were chopped from Facebook along with seven Instagram profiles.

The accounts, which were followed by over 290,000 Facebook users, were created between March 2017 and May 2018, the social media giant said. "We don't have ideal information".

The news from Facebook comes just days after US President Donald Trump suggested that Russian Federation might interfere in the upcoming midterm elections, but that they would be "pushing very hard for the Democrats" because "no President has been tougher on Russia" than him.

Facebook, which has more than 2 billion members worldwide, has come under increased scrutiny following revelations that its social network was used to spread misinformation before the 2016 elections, as well as other important elections and referendums elsewhere, such as the Brexit campaign in Britain.

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.

In the wake of the scandal, Facebook made several changes to its advertising operations. They include a stricter verification process for political ads, and labeling ads with who paid for them.

According to The New York Times, which first reported the news, these accounts have engaged in a "coordinated political influence campaign".

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"At this point in our investigation, we do not have enough technical evidence to state definitively who is behind this", said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy.

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. The account was an admin for 7 minutes before it was identified and removed.

"We can't say for sure if this is the IRA with improved capabilities or a different organization".

Facebook has not yet officially attributed these fake accounts and pages to the IRA or the Russian government, like in 2016. But there are differences as well, Gleicher said.

"It's why we're investing heavily in more people and better technology to prevent bad actors misusing Facebook - as well as working much more closely with law enforcement and other tech companies to better understand the threats we face".

Facebook has ramped up spending on these and other measures, so much so that it finally spooked investors with a forecast of lower profitability last Wednesday. The event was called "No Unite the Right 2 - DC", seemingly billing itself as a counter-protest against the deadly far-right protests in Charlottesville one year ago.

Facebook said it uncovered coordinated activity on issues like a sequel to last year's deadly "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which anti-fascist protesters clashed with white nationalists, one of whom struck and killed a peaceful protester with his vehicle.

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. And they're also pointing to this idea that there were a lot of different events that were taking place while these pages were happening.

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