FACEBOOK said it has dismantled a Russian ‘influence operation’ made up of accounts and pages spreading fake news.
The social media giant linked the accounts to Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA), a group that was was accused of interfering with the 2016 election in the US.
It’s said the agency was behind PeaceData, a brand that claimed to be a non-profit news source targeting English and Arabic speakers.
It’s said the campaign had limited success.
Five Twitter accounts liked to the Russian group have also been taken down.
PeaceData was reportedly aimed at a left-leaning audience.
Both Twitter and Facebook worked with the FBI’s Foreign Influence Task Force to tackle the problem.
Facebook removed 13 account and two pages regarding “public debate in the US” as well as the UK and other countries.
The English language page only had 200 followers and the pages’ overall reach was around 14,000 people.
The accounts had fake names and profile pictures.
However, some real freelance journalists appear to have written for the PeaceData website, perhaps without knowing it wasn’t a real news outlet.
On Twitter, five accounts were removed “for platform manipulation that we can reliably attribute to Russian state actors”.
The platform tried to reassure users by claiming the content produced from the accounts was “low quality and spammy, and most Tweets from these accounts received few, if any, Likes or Retweets”.
Facebook’s biggest cyber-security mistakes
Here’s some of the major times Facebook let us down…
- In 2007, Facebook’s first targetted advertising product, Beacon, caused outrage because there was initally no opt-in option about the kinds of information users wanted to share
- In 2009, a Federal Trade Commission investigation was triggered because Facebook users complained that the new privacy tools were too confusing and pushed users to make more of their personal information public
- In 2010, it was revealed that advertisers were using a privacy loophole to retrieve revealing personal information about Facebook users and the company had to change its software
- In 2011, the FTC charged Facebook with lying to customers about how their information could be kept private but making it public anyway
- 2018 saw Facebook’s biggest privacy scandal to date with reports that Cambridge Analytica misused user data and Facebook had to admit that it had failed to protect its users
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In other news, Facebook has sparked widespread fury over a threat to ban news stories in Australia.
Elon Musk has confirmed a Russian hacker targeted one of his Tesla factories and offered an employee $1million to install a virus.
And, TikTok could narrowly avoid being banned in the USA – with Microsoft and Walmart to thank.
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