Facebook bans 470 "fake" Russian accounts and pages

They were connected to about 470 fake accounts and pages on the social network. "And the first reaction from Facebook was: "Well you're insane, there's nothing going on" - well, we find yesterday there actually was something going on". Facebook found over 3,000 ads and hundreds of of likely fraudulent accounts that operate from Russian Federation, several of which were traced back to a specific troll farm in St. Petersburg. The page has a history of promoting Russian propaganda. While the blog post Facebook published about the ad buys appeared to downplay their significance, they could draw the company into investigations by Congress and special counsel Robert Mueller. While the amount of spending was small, it can go a long way on the social network.

Between June 2015 and May 2017, 470 accounts bought ads touting fake or misleading news or directing users to pages with such content, a Facebook official said.

This suggests a sort of fake news ring being operated out of Russian Federation, and the Washington Post has more details on this shady-sounding endeavor.

Additionally, Facebook did a broad review of political ads bought during the election cycle by accounts with very faint connections to Russia, including, for example, accounts that were set up using an IP address in the United States but with the language set to Russian. Asides from that, it channeled another $50,000 on 2,200 "potentially politically related" ads, most probably by Russians.

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The revelation, first reported by the Washington Post, comes amid ongoing investigations into Russia's interference in the USA election, including the use of social media to spread fake news and propaganda. McClatchy reported in July, for example, that investigators scrutinizing the Russian Federation scandal "are examining whether the Trump campaign's digital operation - overseen by Jared Kushner - helped guide Russia's sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016". "More than anything else, I think that's what we need to defend ourselves".

"It is unlawful for foreign nationals to be spending money in connection with any federal, state or local election, directly or indirectly", Weintraub said in a phone interview. Interestingly the majority of these ads were not run by bots but non-automated and coordinated campaigns by human operatives. But there's no evidence of that based on the information Facebook released Wednesday, he stressed. The investigation has dogged and frustrated President Donald Trump, who has called it a "witch hunt" and a "hoax".

She declined to comment on the Facebook ads, saying she could not comment on subjects that could come before the agency.

"Personally, I think the idea that fake news on Facebook - of which it's a small amount of content - influenced the election in any way is a pretty insane idea", Zuckerberg said on November 10, according to CNN.

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U.S. law enforcement authorities also warned in the weeks before the election that hackers had been attempting to breach computers holding voting records in more than a dozen USA states.

Facebook's findings affirm the conclusions of US intelligence agencies, which issued a 14-page declassified assessment in January.

But the findings buttress USA intelligence agency conclusions that Russian Federation was actively involved in shaping the election.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded earlier this year that Russian Federation and its leader, Vladimir Putin, had interfered in the process to help Trump, possibly by paying social media trolls to spread fake news. We are also experimenting with changes to help us more efficiently detect and stop inauthentic accounts at the time they are being created.

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(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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