Facebook Pulls Fake Accounts That Mimic Russian Tactics Ahead of Election

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The company stopped short of identifying the source of the misinformation.

The company said it is still in the early stages of its investigation and does not have all the facts, including who may be behind the campaign.

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's why we're investing heavily in more people and better technology to prevent bad actors misusing Facebook - as well as working much more closely with law enforcement and other tech companies to better understand the threats we face.

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. It also said some of the pages' behavior was "consistent" with what it saw from Russia's Internet Research Agency before and after the 2016 election. The page also briefly listed an IRA account as one of its administrators. 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". Other pages promoted racial pride among minority groups. "These legitimate Pages unwittingly helped build interest in "No Unite Right 2 - DC" and posted information about transportation, materials, and locations so people could get to the protests".

Almost 300,000 people followed at least one of the deleted accounts, Facebook said, and hundreds of thousands expressed interest in some 30 political events the sites were promoting. The largest had approximately 4,700 accounts interested in attending, and 1,400 users said that they would attend. "But at the same time, this was an account we could use".

Facebook has shut down more than two dozen fake accounts believed to be created by Russians, the company revealed Tuesday in a statement on the Facebook Newsroom.

The intelligence panel is planning to hold a hearing in early September with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and an executive from Google.

But Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer accused the White House of "not doing close to enough" to "shield" US voters from such foreign influence efforts. Warner said he believed that Russian Federation was behind the effort.

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The statement said all accounts had been removed and information was passed to United States government and law enforcement agencies.

The US President Donald Trump, whose 2016 presidential campaign is being investigated over possible collusion with Russian Federation, tweeted on Tuesday 24 June that he is "very concerned that Russian Federation will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election".

President Donald Trump has offered mixed messages on Russian interference, at times even calling it a "hoax".

In an online post, Facebook said it was disclosing the influence effort now in part because of the rally. A previous event past year in Charlottesville, South Carolina, led to violence by white supremacists. The earliest was created in March of previous year, while the most recent was created this May.

The company said it was unable to link any of the accounts or pages to Russian Federation, but admitted that some of their activity was "consistent" with that of the Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-backed organisation accused of interfering with the 2016 presidential.

Facebook says it has detected a coordinated effort to use its social network to influence American politics ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. The ads were paid for in USA and Canadian dollars, the company added. The company's stock has plunged more than 20 per cent since last week, after it reported slower user growth and rising costs for security and safety programs to crack down on abuse of its platform.

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