We are 97 days away from the midterm elections, there’s an active campaign to undermine our democracy on Facebook, and no one can say for certain who’s behind it. That was the big news to emerge Tuesday in a call that Facebook held with reporters, shortly after the New York Times broke the news that the company had detected an “ongoing political influence campaign” that led it to remove 32 pages and fake accounts from the service. Facebook laid out its major findings in a blog post. On one hand, the number of fake accounts caught by Facebook here is relatively small. On the other, they were followed by 290,000 people. The accounts had been created between March 2017 and May of this year, and included such pages as “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” “Mindful Being,” and “Resisters.” The pages were quite active, posting 9,500 times before they were shut down. And they ran ads: 150 of them, at a cost of $11,000. (Notably, these accounts stopped posting after Facebook implemented new disclosure requirements for advertisers.) Most provocatively, the pages seemed to be focused in part on fomenting real-world dissent. Facebook found that the pages had created 30 events since last year, the largest of which had 1,400 people scheduled to attend. According to the Digital Forensic Research Lab, a think tank focused on preventing election interference that has a partnership with Facebook, the fake accounts exclusively targeted the American left. Facebook said it had been compelled to disclose its findings… [Read full story]
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