Facebook Busts Russian Disinfo Networks As US Election Looms

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Facebook announced on Thursday that it has taken down three “coordinated inauthentic behavior” networks promoting disinformation that included nearly 300 Facebook and Instagram accounts along with dozens of Facebook Pages and Groups. While the efforts were seemingly run independently, and focused primarily outside of the US, each has ties to Russian intelligence — and they collectively provide a sobering echo of the social media assault that roiled the 2016 election. The networks Facebook tackled dated back at least three years, but most had few followers at the time they were caught. They primarily promoted non-Facebook websites in an apparent effort to get around the platform’s detection mechanisms, focusing on news and current events, particularly geopolitics. They targeted users in a number of countries, including Syria, Ukraine, Turkey, Japan, the UK, and Belarus, as well as the United States to a lesser extent.

Facebook attributed one of the disinformation distribution networks to “actors associated with election interference in the US in the past, including those involved in ‘DC leaks’ in 2016.” In other words, the actors were likely tied to Fancy Bear, also known as APT 28, the group also responsible for hacks of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Facebook attributes the second network to “individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency,” the so-called troll farm that wreaked havoc on Facebook in 2016. The company noted that it is unclear whether the IRA is still an active entity or what form it takes at this point. The third network had “links to individuals in Russia, including those associated with Russian intelligence services.” None of the networks focused solely on the US. Instead, they engaged with a broad array of topics connected to Russian interests, including the war in Ukraine, the Syrian civil war, the election and protests in Belarus, Russia’s relationship with NATO, and politics in Turkey.

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