Facebook identifies campaign to interfere in USA midterm elections

The Facebook application seen displayed on a Sony smartphone in Bangkok Thailand

USA intelligence agencies have also concluded that Russian state operators used fake social media accounts in an attempt to interfere with the campaign. But he said that Democrats, not his fellow Republicans, would be the ones targeted. Warner expressed "pretty high confidence" that Russian Federation was behind the assault. Facebook said that the people behind the accounts went to greater lengths to hide their identities than in past influence campaigns.

You can read the full blog post here. It's not clear what exactly would have happened if the pages weren't deleted beforehand, but we know what happened when Facebook didn't intervene with similar accounts during the lead up to the 2016 presidential election: the accounts fanned the flames of dissent, pushed Americans farther towards extreme views, and cemented those beliefs with confirmation bias.

Facebook stopped short of saying the effort was aimed at influencing the USA midterm elections in November, although the timing of the suspicious activity would be consistent with such an attempt.

One fake page called "Resisters" was involved in co-ordinating a protest in Washington between August 10-12.

"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.

While the platform has not confirmed this new raft of fake pages was operated by Russian operatives, it did say their broad pattern of behaviour matched the manoeuvres of the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency - the operation accused of injecting troubling content into Facebook before the 2016 election. The accounts seemed focused on building up an online audience and moving it to offline events, such as protests. The first ad was created in April 2017, and the last was created in June 2018.

Facebook says more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the fake pages.

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Inauthentic pages dating back more than a year organized an array of real world events, all but two of which have taken place, according to Facebook.

Facebook didn't provide detailed descriptions of those pages. But the names it released are reminiscent of groups set up by Russian agents to draw in and manipulate Americans with particular ethnic, cultural or political identities ahead of the 2016 election. That effort targeted people with both liberal and conservative leanings.

Despite Facebook's careful language, some Democrats quickly seized on the announcement as further support for their argument Russian Federation is attacking the United States. They spent $11,000 (£8,400) on 150 Facebook and Instagram ads, the last of which was created last month.

Some of the most-followed pages that were shut down included "Resisters" and "Aztlan Warriors".

California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said more work needs to be done before the midterm elections. They are "dividing us along political and ideological lines, to the detriment of our cherished democratic system".

"We've made it harder for inauthentic actors to operate on Facebook", said Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg.

Is Canada safe from Russian-style election hacking on Facebook? And once again, the assailants appear to be using Facebook. But he said that Democrats, not his fellow Republicans, would be the ones supported by Russian Federation. "The United States of America will not tolerate any foreign interference in our elections from any nation state".

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