Facebook May Have Caught Russians Ahead of Midterms


One of the accounts had more than 290-thousand followers.

The Resisters page enlisted support from real followers for an August protest in Washington against the far-right "Unite the Right" group.

Mr Stamos confirmed that pages also played into immigration issues with references to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

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

"We think it's inevitable that we will find evidence and we will find other actors, whether these are from Russian Federation, from other countries, or domestic actors that are looking to continue to try and abuse the platform", Gleicher told the Times.

Facebook has shared some of the images posted by the accounts.

In the current probe, the tech giant eliminated eight Facebook pages and 17 profiles, as well as seven Instagram accounts.

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It said the "bad actors" were trying hard to hide themselves and cover their tracks by using VPNs, Internet phone services and third parties to run ads on their behalf, to avoid Facebook's efforts to prevent abuse or clean online environment. But the social network did point out some connections. But at least that uncertainty didn't stop Facebook from shutting the accounts down before they could cause more damage. The account was an admin for 7 minutes before it was identified and removed. "Our technical forensics are insufficient to provide high confidence attribution at this time", the company wrote. According to the networking site, they identified a coordinated political influence campaign through these inauthentic Facebook accounts.

"We have to find a means, not only of identifying these efforts but countering them as well", said Senator Susan Collins. It said that the company has shared the information with United States law enforcement agencies, Congress, other technology companies, and the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab. Special counsel Robert Mueller later indicted the IRA for its "strategic goal to sow discord in the USA political system".

"Russians want a weak America", he added.

The revelation caps a disastrous week for Facebook, which has seen its share price plunge and billions of dollars being wiped off its total market value and the personal wealth of Mark Zuckerberg, its founder.

Facebook, which has more than 2 billion members worldwide, has come under increased scrutiny following revelations that its social network was used to spread misinformation before the 2016 elections, as well as other important elections and referendums elsewhere, such as the Brexit campaign in Britain. It promised to hire more people, enlist outside help and work on new automated detection methods.

Facebook may not have pointed the finger at the IRA or Russian Federation just yet, but the modus operandi is consistent with past IRA election meddling tactics.