Facebook on Tuesday announced that it had removed 32 Pages and accounts on its two platforms (namely Instagram and Facebook) that were trying to politically influence people ahead of upcoming US midterm elections in November.
Facebook’s Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy, in a blog post has revealed how the company got hold of these accounts and added that it was still in “very early stages of investigation.” There are multiple reasons why Facebook’s taking down of such pages and accounts is a big move by the social media giant. One of them is that there were planned protests Washington next week which were promoted through such network of pages and accounts.
“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. We believe this could be partly due to changes we’ve made over the last year to make this kind of abuse much harder,” said Facebook.
Facebook uncovering the latest attempt to influence upcoming midterm US elections in November is a big deal as this gives assurance that the company is serious with its commitment to stop such bad actors on its platform.
I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2018
Few months back, Facebook faced backlash from users globally after a political firm Cambridge Analytica was found to have access to user’s data.
“We face determined, well-funded adversaries who will never give up and are constantly changing tactics. It’s an arms race and we need to constantly improve too. 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 assured once again that it will go to any height to get rid of such elements on its channel.
The company has also revealed what it has done so far after realising that such attempts were being made on its channel.
“About two weeks ago we identified the first of eight Pages and 17 profiles on Facebook, as well as seven Instagram accounts, that violate our ban on coordinated inauthentic behaviour, Facebook’s Gleicher explains.
Interestingly, Facebook’s uncovering of 32 accounts and Pages may just be a tip of the iceberg and there might be more ways where rogue political campaigns are trying to influence US political landscape.
“We found this activity as part of our ongoing efforts to identify coordinated inauthentic behaviour. Given these bad actors are now working harder to obscure their identities, we need to find every small mistake they make,” Gleicher further explains.
Facebook kept a close tab on accounts or Pages that were sharing events that were created with an agenda to influence US elections.
“One of the IRA accounts we disabled in 2017 shared a Facebook Event hosted by the “Resisters” Page. This Page also previously had an IRA account as one of its admins for only seven minutes. These discoveries helped us uncover the other inauthentic accounts we disabled today,” Gleicher said.
Facebook’s Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer, added, “Deciding when and how to publicly link suspicious activity to a specific organization, government, or individual is a challenge that governments and many companies face. Last year, we said the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) was behind much of the abuse we found around the 2016 election.”
“But today we’re shutting down 32 Pages and accounts engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour without saying that a specific group or country is responsible,” Stamos added.