US News: Facebook just removed dozens of fake accounts based in Russia and Iran that were spreading misinformation and trying to meddle in elections - - PressFrom - United Kingdom
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US News Facebook just removed dozens of fake accounts based in Russia and Iran that were spreading misinformation and trying to meddle in elections

05:40  22 october  2019
05:40  22 october  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Facebook just removed dozens of fake accounts based in Russia and Iran for trying to meddle in elections . Facebook said most of the fake accounts it finds originate from Russia , Iran , and China, and The social media platform has been widely criticized for allowing misinformation to spread

With just over a year left until the 2020 U.S. presidential election , Facebook is stepping up its efforts to ensure it is not used as a tool to interfere in politics The company also announced it has removed four networks of fake , state-backed misinformation - spreading accounts based in Russia and Iran .

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Georgetown University, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) © ASSOCIATED PRESS Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Georgetown University, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass) Facebook is waging a constant war against online trolls looking to interfere with foreign politics, and the social media giant just gave us an inside look at the latest battle.

On Monday, Facebook announced it identified and removed four separate networks of interconnected accounts engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behavior." In other words, these were four separate groups posting misleading content on Facebook under fake accounts, groups or pages on Facebook.

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Facebook said Monday that it had taken down four separate networks of fake , state-backed misinformation - spreading accounts based in The company removed 93 Facebook accounts , 17 pages and four Instagram accounts which originated in Iran and targeted users in the US.

Fake accounts were created in different countries with the sole purpose of sharing content from Sputnik. In August, Facebook also removed 652 fake accounts , pages and groups originating in Russia and Iran “It’s not just Facebook . It’s going to be all the platforms. This is the new normal.”

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Facebook said three of the networks originated in Iran, while the fourth was based in Russia. These networks included about 200 accounts and pages that shared divisive memes and content meant to influence people in the United States, Latin America, and parts of North Africa.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said the four networks were discovered as a part of the company's efforts to police organized campaigns launched by fake accounts. Collectively, the banned accounts had more than 250,000 followers and their posts could've reached many more people.

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"We detected this activity as part of our ongoing review of suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior ahead of US elections," Gleicher wrote in a blog post. "We've shared information with our industry partners, policymakers and law enforcement and will continue working with others to find and remove this behavior."

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  Frozen in time, US Embassy a monument to Iran hostage crisis Frozen in time, US Embassy a monument to Iran hostage crisisThe diplomatic compound was overrun by students angered when Washington allowed ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the U.S. for medical treatment. What initially began as a sit-in devolved into 444 days of captivity for 52 Americans seized in the embassy.

The company also announced it has removed four networks of fake , misinformation - spreading accounts based in Russia and Iran . In the past year, Facebook says it has taken down 50 such clusters of accounts , a sign that efforts to use its services to disrupt elections are not letting up.

Facebook said most of the fake accounts it finds originate from Russia, Iran, and China, and they post about politics in various parts of the world. According to Facebook, much of the "inauthentic behavior" was designed to spark a response from people on both sides of major political issues, though some repurposed articles from Iran's state media. Most posts were responses to high-profile political figures or other media sources.

  Facebook just removed dozens of fake accounts based in Russia and Iran that were spreading misinformation and trying to meddle in elections © Reuters

"The people behind this operation often posted on both sides of political issues including topics like US elections, environmental issues, racial tensions, LGBTQ issues, political candidates, confederate ideas, conservatism and liberalism," Gleicher said of the Russia-based accounts. "They also maintained accounts presenting themselves as local in some swing states, and posed as either conservatives or progressives."

With the 2020 US presidential election on the horizon, Facebook has been vocal about its efforts to combat political trolls. The social media platform has been widely criticized for allowing misinformation to spread across the platform, and an investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller's office found that dozens of Russian agents were involved in a coordinated campaign to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Speaking to the press during a conference call on Monday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook's pre-emptive detection of these fake accounts should serve as encouragement that the company is making strides on security. 

Donald Trump, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon are posing for a picture © Facebook

Zuckerberg said the company now has 35,000 employees focused on security, and says the company is now spending more on security than its made in revenue during 2012, the same year Facebook went public.

"There's still a long way to go before election day, and we have a big responsibility to secure our platform and stay ahead of the sophisticated new threats to the integrity of elections here and around the world. Personally this is one of my top priorities for the company." Zuckerberg said. "Elections have changed significantly, and Facebook has changed too. We are confident that we are more prepared heading into 2020 to fight interference and protect the integrity of our elections."

In addition to tightened security behind the scenes, Facebook will also roll out new features designed to help people verify questionable sources online. Facebook will introduce a new tag that shows when an ad or post has been fact-checked by a third party, and news sources that are run by a local government will be labeled as such. Additionally, people creating a group or page will have their real name and location listed with Facebook for verification, to prevent foreign entities from posing as local people.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Facebook

Facebook continues to face harsh criticism from Democratic presidential candidates for allowing misinformation on the platform and in paid advertisements, specifically. Last week, Zuckerberg defended the company's stance to allow some types of misinformation, so long as it doesn't lead to violence or other immediate harm. During a speech at Georgetown University, Zuckerberg said the policy was rooted in his belief in freedom of expression.

With social media becoming one of the primary venues for political discussion in recent years, the incentive to dominate the conversation or weaponize political feelings to create conflict is greater than ever. Facebook and other social media platforms will have to deal with constant attempts to disrupt natural discourage, and separate what's authentic from what's not.

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Frozen in time, US Embassy a monument to Iran hostage crisis .
Frozen in time, US Embassy a monument to Iran hostage crisisThe diplomatic compound was overrun by students angered when Washington allowed ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi into the U.S. for medical treatment. What initially began as a sit-in devolved into 444 days of captivity for 52 Americans seized in the embassy.

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