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Facebook Identifies "Sophisticated Attempt" To Influence Midterms Via Fake Accounts And Pages

03 August 2018

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".

It described attempts to erase election interference as an "arms race".

In total, Facebook identified 8 pages, 17 profiles, and 7 Instagram accounts involved in this suspicious behavior.

But while Facebook was quick to emphasize the company isn't yet attributing the campaign to Russian Federation, there are still some connections.

The activity had "similar qualities" to what the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency employed in advance of the 2016 elections, according to multiple sources who were briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly.

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. Analysts say Facebook is now appearing to take a proactive approach in its fight against misinformation.

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"We're still in the very early stages of our investigation and don't have all the facts-including who may be behind this", Facebook's blog reads. It is believed that the now-removed accounts were set up to exacerbate political tensions in the lead-up to the United States midterm elections later this year.

▻ There were more than 9,500 organic posts created by these accounts on Facebook and one piece of content on Instagram.

That said, Facebook acknowledged one instance of a connection between the Internet Research Agency and the fake accounts removed on Tuesday. The people or organizations that ran those accounts spent $11,000 (in both U.S. and Canadian) on 150 separate ads so that the pages would attract even more followers.

The most followed Facebook pages were "Aztlan Warriors, ' 'Black Elevation, ' 'Mindful Being, ' and 'Resisters", the network said.

"We know that Russians and other bad actors are going to continue to try to abuse our platform - before the midterms, probably during the midterms, after the midterms, and around other events and elections", Gleicher told reporters on a conference call. "For example, they used VPNs and internet phone services, and paid third parties to run ads on their behalf". But the social network did point out some connections. But it did find one link between the IRA and the new accounts.

The first of the pages was created in March 2017. Inauthentic admins of the "Resisters" Page connected with admins from five legitimate Pages to co-host the event.

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"The set of actors we see now might be the IRA with improved capabilities, or it could be a separate group", explained Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos. "Our technical forensics are insufficient to provide high confidence attribution at this time", the company wrote.

The company said it was letting the public know ahead of the protest that the fake accounts had planned and coordinated for next week.

Still very much a battleground for geopolitical warfare, Facebook says it just shut down a coordinated campaign to sow disinformation and discord among US voters.

NBC News uncovered deleted pages that went even deeper to stoke racial tension, often targeting African American and Hispanic communities, and cyber experts say it is just a fraction of the attacks ramping up on all platforms. It promised to hire more people, enlist outside help and work on new automated detection methods.

More information will likely be revealed in the coming months and weeks.

The White House said the administration was supportive of Facebook's actions.

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Facebook Identifies