Facebook Uncovers New, Covert Effort Pushing Political Divisions

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On the call, Facebook executives said they are sharing the evidence they found with law enforcement, which can help make a determination about the groups' motive and impact.

Credit: Frederic Legrand/ShutterstockAccording to the Times, Facebook told lawmakers that it hasn't been able to conclusively tie the accounts to Russian Federation, but that it still believes the country may be involved.

It revealed it has suspended 32 accounts "because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior".

Facebook on Tuesday announced that it had once again detected and removed a coordinated group of so-called "inauthentic" accounts working to influence the USA political landscape.

"We don't have all the facts, but we'll work closely with others as we continue our investigation, " Facebook, the social media giant, said. Facebook's Gleicher said some of the administrators of the event page for the counter-protest were real accounts, and that the company had notified the people running the real accounts that it was taking down the event page.

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The company said those behind the campaign had been "more careful to cover their tracks, adding: "We've found evidence of some connections between these accounts and IRA accounts we disabled previous year (.) but there are differences too".

Facebook said it worked with law enforcement to identify these bogus pages, and significantly increased the amount of resources it devotes to security to tamp down manipulation on the platform. It was while chasing one of these leads, however, that Facebook said it was able to tie an IRA account disabled past year to the bogus event hosted by the "Resisters" page.

"At this point we don't have enough technical evidence to state definitively who is behind this, but they have shown similar activity and have connected with known IRA accounts", said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, in a call with reporters.

It is also placing political ads into a public database (which, of course, you must login to see) and claims to be using both artificial intelligence and human reviewers to identify unusual or suspicious coordinated campaigning behavior.

Samples of the inauthentic activity.

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Rick Scott , who is campaigning to defeat Democratic Sen. "The only time I see Bill Nelson is five months before every election". The freewheeling rally lasted more than an hour and included numerous attacks on the media, as well as one glaring false claim .

The accounts sent $11,000 to run 150 ads on both Facebook and Instagram between April 2017 and June of this year, paid for in USA and Canadian dollars. Facebook wrote in its blog posting that the newly discovered "bad actors" have used VPNs, internet phone services and third parties to run ads and create content, making them harder to track.

'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 (IRA) has in the past, ' it said. It said, for example, the posts on the year-old, feminist Resisters page "took a liberal or left-wing stance on issues around gender, race, immigration, and human rights".

It's worth noting that Senator Mark Warner, a ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued a statement immediately following Facebook's disclosure that outright blames this new coordinated network of misinformation on Russian Federation and the Kremlin. Over this time period, they generated 9,500 posts and ran 150 ads for about $11,000. The remaining Pages had between zero and 10 followers, and the Instagram accounts had zero followers.

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

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