Facebook Shutters More Fake Accounts, Believed to Be Linked to Russian Federation

While Facebook would not say who was behind the efforts, it said it found links between the deleted accounts and those created by Russia's Internet Research Agency, which has been charged by US prosecutors with a major effort to influence the outcome of the 2016 USA presidential election.

The statement said the company removed eight Facebook pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and seven Instagram accounts that violated the company's ban on "coordinated inauthentic behavior".

Facebook did not want to talk about who could have been behind these accounts because they said that there isn't enough evidence to point the finger at Russian Federation.

This post originally appeared on Tom's Hardware. There was no specific evidence that political candidates were targeted, but one account followed an IRA-associated account for a brief period.

As CNN reports, Facebook said more that 30 pages were removed, including at least one promoting a fake "Unite the Right" counter protest.

"We don't have all the facts, but we'll work closely with others as we continue our investigation", Facebook said.

Facebook said law enforcement officials and Congress have been notified about the company's actions and provided with the information Facebook gathered to trigger the removal. It's not clear what exactly would have happened if the pages weren't deleted beforehand, but we know what happened when Facebook didn't intervene with similar accounts during the lead up to the 2016 presidential election: the accounts fanned the flames of dissent, pushed Americans farther towards extreme views, and cemented those beliefs with confirmation bias. He said the company had yet to see any evidence connecting the accounts to Russian IP addresses, like the ones sometimes used in the past by Internet Research Agency accounts.

The company said that whoever set up the accounts "went to much greater lengths" to obscure their identities than the IRA had in the past, but also said it found links between some of the new accounts and previous Russia-linked accounts it had disabled a year ago.

Burr said the goal of influence operations "is to sow discord, distrust, and division in an attempt to undermine public faith in our institutions and our political system". Those accounts made more than 9,500 posts on Facebook and one on Instagram.

Facebook said one of the pages had 290,000 followers.

While the details of this latest influence campaign are still murky, Facebook seems to have learned a few things over the course of the last two years. "These discoveries helped us uncover the other inauthentic accounts we disabled today".

In the last election, Russian hackers alleged to be controlled by the Kremlin published anti-Hillary Clinton material, as well as racially-loaded material.

In a blog post, Facebook revealed it is aware of new "coordinated inauthentic behavior" on the site.

In spite of Facebook's caution over attribution, members of congress who had been briefed by the company this week were quick to ascribe blame to Russian Federation.

Facebook has been grappling with an ongoing public backlash for being slow to recognize Russian interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election, along with widespread concerns over its past data-sharing practices.

Hai Do wrote this story based on information from Facebook. 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. "We know that Russian Federation is coming back in 2018, 2020, and beyond".

Some of those fake accounts included pages like "Aztlan Warriors", "Black Elevation", "Mindful Being", and "Resisters".

  • Rogelio Becker