Wednesday, 14 November, 2018

Facebook blocks more accounts ‘meddling’ in US mid-terms

Facebook removes more pages, as FBI warns Russia still targeting American voters Facebook blocks 115 accounts suspected of 'inauthentic behavior'
Kenny Thornton | 08 November, 2018, 15:48

Gleicher added that Facebook would ordinarily be further along in its investigation of the accounts before going public about its moves but wanted to get the word out quickly since Election Day was at hand.

The social networking giant said the accounts were immediately blocked while investigations take place.

The Instagram accounts were mostly in English, with some "focused on celebrities, others political debate".

"Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly", Gleicher noted.

The disclosure, which came more than a year after the company revealed Russian state actors used Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms to meddle in the 2016 presidential race, claimed foreign entities were still using the social media platforms and trying to shape USA politics.

The company took action after being tipped off Sunday evening by US law enforcement officials, who notified the company about recently discovered online activity, "which they believe may be linked to foreign entities", Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, wrote in the post.

On Sunday, the tech titan apparently received a call from USA law enforcement regarding suspicious activity, which they believed was linked to foreign entities.

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It was the US law enforcement that warned Facebook about these accounts.

A blog post entitled "Election Update" from the company's head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said the firm is in "regular contact with law enforcement, outside experts and other companies around the world".

He added the partnership already helped the company remove several "bad actors from Facebook on many occasions in the a year ago", the latest being blocking 82 pages, groups and accounts linked to Iran on October 26.

A study published last week found that misinformation on social media was spreading at a greater rate than during the run-up to the 2016 presidential vote, which Russian Federation is accused of manipulating through a vast propaganda campaign in favor of Donald Trump, the eventual victor. The statement detailed government efforts to prevent election interference. "They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics".

In this context, the director of the Oxford Institute and author of the study Philip Howard found that the efforts of Twitter and Facebook in order to eradicate the misinformation of their platforms were "wordsmithing" and that "obviously, small fignolages do not produce a great impact".

Four days ago, Twitter had reportedly taken down more than 10,000 fake accounts for coordinated misinformation aimed at discouraging US voters from casting their ballots.

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