Facebook deletes more ‘inauthentic’ accounts - but stops short of blaming Russian Federation

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Facebook has identified an ongoing effort to influence the United States mid-term elections, using inauthentic accounts and pages on the social network.

Facebook said that the banned accounts and pages were more sophisticated in covering their tracks than previously-suspended pages that have been linked to Russian Federation.

"Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity", Warner said in a statement.

The company previously had said 126 million Americans may have seen Russian-backed political content on Facebook over a two-year period, and that 16 million may have been exposed to Russian information on Instagram.

Facebook discovered coordinated activity around issues like a sequel to last year's deadly "Unite the Right" white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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A Russian propaganda arm tried to tamper in the 2016 USA election by posting and buying ads on Facebook, according to the company and US intelligence agencies. Ben Sasse said. "Russia and China understand that successful information operations don't create new problems but exploit existing fissures - that's why Moscow is working to divide Americans by stoking both sides of almost every culture war".

Mr. Mueller's indictment of a dozen Russians last month provided another thread, according to Facebook. But there were also connections between some of the accounts and others tied to the notorious Russian troll farm that were taken down by Facebook already.

Facebook said it all started two weeks ago when it identified the first of eight pages and 17 profiles.

Facebook said it already shared the information about today's suspended accounts with U.S. law enforcement, Congress, other technology companies, and the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, a research organization that helps Facebook identify and analyze abuse on its network.

In one case, a known IRA account was a co-admin on one of the pages for seven minutes before the account was removed from Facebook.

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The company said the pages ran 150 ads for a total of approximately $11,000.

Facebook said it had briefed U.S. law enforcement agencies, Congress and other tech companies about its findings.

And its findings were limited to 32 apparently fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram, which the company removed because they were involved in "coordinated" and "inauthentic" political behavior.

Among the techniques used to cover their trails were virtual private networks, and internet phone services. "We've made it harder for inauthentic actors to operate on Facebook, yet we face determined, well-funded adversaries who won't give up and keep changing their tactics". "It's an arms race and we need to constantly improve too", Facebook said.

Having been publicly embarrassed and then excoriated for its failure to identify a massive misinformation campaign last time around, Facebook has expanded its security team, hiring several serious counterterrorism experts, and introduced new rules included the requirement for political advertisers to register with a USA addresses.

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Roughly 290,000 people followed one or more of the dodgy pages, and here's the most troubling part: the pages created invites for 30 real-world events during their time on Facebook, meaning someone, somewhere, attempted to engage masses of Americans for their own political goals.

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