Facebook May Have Caught Russians Ahead of Midterms

Bogus pages and accounts were spreading 'divisive' political content
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 31, 2018 12:40 PM CDT
Facebook Yanks Bogus Pages, Suspects Russians
The Facebook logo.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

Facebook says it has uncovered "sophisticated" efforts, possibly linked to Russia, to influence US politics on its platforms. The company says it removed 32 accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in "coordinated" behavior and appeared to be fake. Facebook says it doesn't know who is behind the efforts, but it found connections between the accounts it removed and the accounts connected to Russia's Internet Research Agency that it removed before and after the 2016 US presidential elections, per the AP. It was not immediatlely clear whether the campaign sought to help or harm particular candidates ahead of the midterm elections, reports the Washington Post.

But at the very least, the bogus pages seemed to be engaged in a "disinformation effort" aimed at spreading "politically divisive content around social issues," per the Post. The earliest page was created in March 2017. Facebook says more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the fake pages. The most followed Facebook Pages were "Aztlan Warriors," ''Black Elevation," ''Mindful Being," and "Resisters." Whoever put them up knew what they were doing: “It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past,” Facebook said in a post.

(Read more Facebook stories.)

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