Facebook deletes pages after uncovering 'coordinated' USA misinformation campaign

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The company was careful to hedge its announcement; it didn't link the effort directly to Russian Federation or to the midterms, now less than a hundred days away.

"This kind of behaviour is not allowed on Facebook because we don't want people or organisations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they're doing", Facebook said in a statement, Efe reported.

That said, Facebook acknowledged one instance of a connection between the Internet Research Agency and the fake accounts removed on Tuesday. In one case, a known IRA account was listed as an administrator on a Facebook page controlled by the newly banned group. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.). Warner expressed "pretty high confidence" that Russian Federation was behind the assault.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, refused to answer questions about whether the company had found any more Russian disinformation campaigns.

The social media giant said the accounts were responsible for almost 10,000 posts and had spent $11,000 on 150 ads in the past year focused on controversial social issues such as white supremacist marches and immigration policies.

"These bad actors have been more careful to cover their tracks, in part due to the actions we've taken to prevent abuse over the past year", Gleicher said.

They also used third parties to publish paid advertisements on Facebook, in violation of the social media firm's policies banning foreign entities from buying USA political ads.

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.

It added that it "may never be able to identify the source" for the fake accounts. "But security is not something that's ever done", the company said in a statement released Tuesday afternoon", Facebook said in a statement Tuesday.

"Attribution is not necessary for us to find and stop this behavior", Stamos said. Facebook's shares promptly dropped nearly 20 percent and haven't recovered.

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While its executives aren't pointing the finger at Russian Federation, they said it's strikingly similar to a previous internal investigation that concluded the Russia-backed Internet Research Agency pushed divisive content to 126 million Americans ahead of the 2016 presidential elections. The accounts seemed focused on building up an online audience and moving it to offline events, such as protests.

The pages were created between March 2017 and May 2018 and had a total of 290,000 followers.

Facebook on Tuesday said had it removed 32 pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram, part of an effort to combat foreign meddling in United States elections, attempts that lawmakers have called unsafe for democracy.

A screengrab from one of the pages that Facebook shut down. That effort targeted people with both liberal and conservative leanings.

Today's announcement is meant to send the message that Facebook is on top of the problem.

The accounts sent $11,000 to run 150 ads on both Facebook and Instagram between April 2017 and June of this year, paid for in USA and Canadian dollars. The Resisters page partnered with five authentic US progressive groups to organize an August 10 rally marking the one-year anniversary of the deadly white nationalist "Unite the Rally" in Charlottesville, Virginia, Facebook announced. The discovery comes amid primaries for midterm elections across the country.

Representative Adam Schiff (Democrat-California) speaks during an interview with Mike Allen of Axios in Washington, DC, on January 31, 2018. It said it identified the first of them two weeks ago. They are "dividing us along political and ideological lines, to the detriment of our cherished democratic system".

Facebook did not say who was behind the operation.

But after Facebook's announcement, the White House stressed Trump opposed all efforts at election interference.

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