by Countable | Updated on 1.25.19
Facebook said Thursday that it has removed hundreds of pages and accounts that pretended to be real news sites from places in Eastern Europe, but were actually operated by employees from Russian state-owned news company Sputnik.
Why it matters: The effort potentially shows a new tactic being used by Russia to weaponize misinformation — using its state-run media arm to create fake posts that look like they come from real newsrooms in vulnerable countries.
Details: In total, Facebook says it removed 364 pages and accounts from a network that originated in Russia and operated in parts of the former Soviet Union, like the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and other countries in central and eastern Europe.
Between the lines: Facebook says the groups also spent $135,000 on ads, the first big ad spend announcement the tech giant has made since it first revealed bad actors bought ads on the platform in the fall of 2017.
Facebook also says, with a tip from law enforcement, that it removed accounts and pages from a separate campaign originating from Russia and Ukraine that used "coordinated misinformation tactics" on Facebook and Instagram. It says the two operations don't appear to be linked, despite using similar tactics.
The bigger picture: These announcements are becoming common from tech platforms, particularly Facebook and Instagram. Despite efforts to secure their platforms, Big Tech is still very vulnerable to attempts to manipulate users via organic and paid activity online.
Be smart: Facebook says it's removing these accounts, pages and posts based on their behavior, which is coordinated to make the impact of the content they post have a greater manipulative effect. The individual pieces of content on their own don't technically violate Facebook's rules, allowing the bad actors to avoid detection.
What's next: Expect congressional and advocacy outrage — and probably news of more activity. Facebook says it hasn't yet reviewed the organic activity linked to the accounts that bought the ads yet.
Written by Countable
Too little too late. Like republicans in congress, just another organization selling out America and aiding our enemies for a buck.
If you get your news from Facebook, or countable for that matter, then you are an idiot.
It is certainly a plus that they have found a way to identify and remove those pages. FB, IG and any other social media sites are always a ‘user should always be cautious’ platforms. A new study revealed those over 65 years old and ultra conservatives shared an astounding (7) times more fake information masquerading as ‘real’ news than younger adults, moderate and super liberals during the 2016 elections. The question of the relevance of Social Media in our lives is a glaring issue in our elections. Are representatives who are running for re-election willing to address the significant problem of others influencing political outcomes or just let the dice roll where it may? Perhaps those seeking political office should start campaigning in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other large Russian cities? As impossible as it may sound, that is more or less what is happening in the virtual world of Social Media.
I’m sad because it is a little late don’t you think. It was their responsibility in the first place to protect Facebook and its users!!
Wouldn't it be nice if everybody just played by the rules. This is why we have unions, OSHA, EPA, and so many other groups that fight for the rights of us to make a fair wage, work in a safe enviroment, breath clean air and have clean water. All of our safety mechanisms are to protect people including from our rogue government that is so inclined to overlook what's fair and right for americans in general.
Maybe they should close their own site & Google too for (now proven) removing links to conservative stories, videos & websites. Won’t happen though because that’s against the liberal agenda. It’s funny to see people accuse others of the exact thing they’re doing. A true cry of desperation & shows the Democratic Party is declining fast.
I thought this problem was supposed to have been taken care of two years ago... I'm so happy I'm not on FB or any other social media website.
Corporate censorship can NEVER have a good ending. Today’s enemy is tomorrow’s friend. You could be next.
It is important to recognize this shows Russian interference in our 2016 election. Keep pressure on to sanction Russian oligarchs.
About Time Facebook!
Who will the DNC collude with now?
I see a lot of comments on here which lead me to believe that the minority simply can't accept the fact they are a minority and are looking for a safe place to hide their heads in the sand. They accuse everybody, but Fox and Limbaugh of being biased and just can't accept the fact that the numbers are against them.
This ongoing problem must be stopped. It’s just going to keep on spreading unless something is done to permanently stop it. Social media is a dangerous propaganda tool when nefarious actors are tolerated.
A lot too late un this case but glad they did something.
They are just doing this now??? Lil late
Facebook violates Americans privacy on the daily. The allow the dissemination of propaganda while undermining real factual news. It is certainly a step in the right direction, but frankly it is too little too late. Their company and their practices are reprehensible and they should face legal action and fines at a minimum.
I’m happy they did that. Why not sooner? I expect they have algorithms to identify malicious sites, posts, and ads.
Next up CNN.