Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Facebook Detects Another Group of Accounts Seeking to Inflame Social Divides

Facebook Detects Another Group of Accounts Seeking to Inflame Social Divides



It’s happened again.
Facebook has reported that it’s detected another group of Pages, groups and accounts which have been found to be participating in “coordinated, inauthentic behavior” on the platform.
The new group appears to originate from Iran, with connected profiles across both Facebook and Instagram – here are the cumulative findings that Facebook has reported:
  • Presence on Facebook and Instagram - 254 Pages, 276 accounts, and 3 groups on Facebook, as well as 116 accounts on Instagram.
  • Followers - About 983,000 accounts followed at least one of these Pages, 2,300 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and more than 59,000 accounts followed at least one of these Instagram accounts.
  • Advertising - More than $12,000 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in US and Australian dollars. The first ad was run in Jan 2015, and the last was run in August 2018. Some ads have been blocked since the launch of our political ads transparency tools launched. We have not completed our review of the organic content coming from these accounts.
  • Events - 28 events hosted.
All of these pages have now been removed – 652 Pages, groups and accounts in total, a huge network of potential influence.
The findings once again underline the power Facebook holds in this regard, and the way its platform – at 2.2 billion users – can, and will, be misused by politically motivated groups.
Indeed, Facebook notes that while they are improving, so too are the groups they’re trying to catch:
“While we’re making progress rooting out this abuse, as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge because the people responsible are determined and well-funded. We constantly have to improve to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working more closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies.”
In a separate note, Facebook also says that it has removed more Pages, groups and accounts linked to sources that the US government has previously identified as Russian military intelligence services.
While these are some of the same bad actors we removed for cybersecurity attacks before the 2016 US election, this more recent activity focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine. For example, they are associated with Inside Syria Media Center, which the Atlantic Council and other organizations have identified for covertly spreading pro-Russian and pro-Assad content. To date, we have not found activity by these accounts targeting the US.”
Given the results such groups have been seemingly able to achieve, there’s no doubt more will keep trying, and Facebook, as noted, will have to work hard to stay ahead of them.