Facebook removeFacebook has removed 32 fake accounts and pages that it says were involved in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and political influence campaign to manipulate voters ahead of the November mid-term elections in the US.
Though the world’s biggest social media network has not yet attributed the accounts to any group, it says the campaign does bear some resemblance to the propaganda campaign allegedly run by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential elections accounts involved in political influence campaign.
The company’s stock has plunged more than 20 percent 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.
“This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want people or organizations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing,” it said.
Noting that Facebook is still in the very early stages of its investigation and does not have all the facts – including who may be behind this, the company executives warned that they were dealing with increasingly sophisticated political operatives, who are finding new ways to abuse Facebook’s platforms.
Fake accounts contacted administrators of five other legitimate Facebook groups to help plan the counterprotest, including offering support for transportation and logistics and posting ads to hire an event coordinator.
“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,” Facebook said.
For example, they used virtual private networks (VPNs) and internet phone services and paid third parties to run ads on their behalf.
“We have found evidence of some connections between these accounts and IRA accounts we disabled last year, which is covered below. But there are differences, too. For example, while IP addresses are easy to spoof, the IRA accounts we disabled last year sometimes used Russian IP addresses. We haven’t seen those here,” it said.
Facebook has deployed technology tools like artificial intelligence and thousands of people to work on security as the company’s “major focus” this year is to protect the integrity of upcoming elections in several countries, including India, on its platform, its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said earlier.