Facebook removes new network linked to Russian internet research agency
As the 2020 U.S. presidential election approaches, Facebook’s efforts to eliminate coordinated influence are becoming even more important, and no doubt many will follow the platform’s monthly coordinated misbehavior reports for any signs of potential concern ahead of the November poll.
This week Facebook released an August update for the malicious accounts it detected and deleted. And the familiar name appeared on the list again.
According to Facebook:
Since 2017, we have removed over 100 networks worldwide for coordinated misconduct, including ahead of major democratic elections. The first network we turned off was associated with the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), as well as the 100th network we turned off in August. In total, our team found and removed about a dozen fake campaigns associated with individuals associated with the IRA.# the payment gateway don’t worry about online payments.
The Kremlin-affiliated Russian Internet Research Agency, as you may recall, was a key player identified in the effort to manipulate American voters ahead of the 2016 elections, which may well have influenced the final outcome. We certainly don’t know what level of influence her efforts actually had, but the IRA’s goal ahead of the 2016 poll appears to have focused on sowing rift among American voters in hopes of nudging them to vote based on those results. … pain points.
Since then, Facebook has implemented a number of measures to better identify and address such attempts before they take effect, which should limit the same in 2020:
Over the past three years, we’ve found these efforts earlier and earlier in their work, often stopping them before they could build their audience. With each removal, attackers lose their infrastructure on many platforms, forcing them to adjust their methods, and further reduce their ability to recuperate and gain momentum.
So the question of Russian influence should be less significant this time around, and there is definitely no clear upward trend in detection and removal on its platforms, judging by the Facebook CIB reports over the past six months.
As you can see here, from month to month, we have not seen a significant increase in Facebook’s removal actions leading up to elections. At some point, Instagram seemed to be getting more attention, but this latest report says so, and groups are the only section that saw growth in August.
The discovered IRA cluster, for context, was also relatively small, with a total of 13 Facebook accounts and two pages – although Facebook notes that it was only in the early stages of establishing its presence. The network focused on strengthening its presence “on the left side of the political spectrum.
What’s good, right? This means that Facebook sees less manipulative actions, which ideally means that it is better at removing such actions and better at protecting democratic processes in all regions. Or those who build such campaigns are better at hiding them. It is impossible to know, but at this stage, based on these findings, it looks like Facebook’s efforts to detect such things are paying off.
This can ensure that the 2020 election results are not mired in foreign interference.