Facebook removes fake accounts posed as newsgroups ahead of 2018 US midterm elections

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Facebook has purged hundreds of fake accounts, groups and Pages linked to Russia and Iran. It says the account and Page owners hid their identities across the social network’s services, and some of them wanted to launch cyberattacks.

An official Facebook blogpost on Tuesday said it found organized “inauthentic behavior” on Facebook and Instagram.

The Russian and Iranian campaigns were diverse. Facebook did not find any link between the instigators. But they detected similar tactics to create networks of accounts to deceive people about their true identity and objectives.

“We ban this kind of behavior because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook,” the company said in the post.

Facebook found the fake accounts ahead of the 2018 US midterm elections. Another instance where political propagandists are using a social media platform to spread fake news. In 2016, Russian masterminds fabricated half-truths to interfere with the US Presidential campaign and election.

In a press conference call, Facebook CEO advised reporters to expect more revelations on the campaigns in the coming months.

“I think it’s safe to say we have a number of investigations going on, and we’ll update you when we know more,” Zuckerberg hinted.

The Purge

Facebook said it removed 652 accounts, groups and pages. They removed Pages and accounts involving two distinct sources: Russia and Iran.

They detected three separate Iranian campaigns. Two of these campaigns have links to Iranian state media. The three campaigns targeted people across the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US.

Facebook also said it identified the Russian campaigns to have links to Russian military intelligence services identified by the US government. These efforts focused on politics in Ukraine and Syria.

Russia was found guilty of meddling with the US Presidential election in 2016. They bought up ads and spread fake news or contentious messages.

The scandal bore on Facebook. The company admitted it was caught unexpectedly. It has mitigated the aftermath by ramping up security and imposing more stringent policies.

Zuckerberg advised on Tuesday that the increased efforts are working.  They can detect malicious campaigns earlier.

“We’re starting to see it pay off and we’re identifying more of this before the election,” he said.

Scandal after Scandal

Facebook already spotted fake accounts such as the ones reported here. The initiators have one goal in mind: interfere with the 2018 US midterm elections.

Facebook announced in July this year that it found a coordinated campaign to meddle with US politics ahead of the midterms.

Dozens of accounts engaged in malicious activities and organized real-life events, often hiding under the umbrella of unwitting legitimate activists in the US.

Facebook kept mum on their leaders, but it found parallels to the 2016 Russian misinformation campaigns.

Designed to be politically disruptive, the content was left-wing in general. It sometimes directly opposed President Donald Trump.


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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. His work appears on SocialBarrel.com and several other websites, covering social media, technology and other niches.

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