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Facebook suspends politically focused fake accounts ahead of 2018 midterms

The social media giant said it found the first of eight pages and 17 profiles on Facebook two weeks ago.

Jul 31, 2018, 12:54 pm*

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Andrew Wyrich 

Andrew Wyrich

Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has suspended several “inauthentic” accounts that appeared to be posting politically-driven content.

The pages were on both Facebook and Instagram, the company said in a statement, and went to “much greater lengths to obscure” their true identities than what was done when the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian “troll farm” that used social media to sow discord among voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

The social media giant said it found the first of eight pages and 17 profiles on Facebook two weeks ago. In total, more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the inauthentic pages which included names such as: “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” “Mindful Being,” and “Resisters.” The accounts displayed “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” according to the statement.

One of the pages, “Resisters,” worked with actual pages on Facebook to set up a “No United Right 2-DC” event meant to be a counter-protest to a new “Unite the Right” rally in August.

Those behind the accounts used VPNs and paid third parties to pay for ads on their behalf. Despite finding the accounts, the social media giant said it did not have any “firm evidence” that pointed to who was behind the accounts, however, they did share “activity” that was consistent with tactics used by the IRA ahead of the 2016 election.

The New York Times reports that the company told lawmakers this week that it detected the accounts as part of its investigation into election interference.

“We hope to get new information from law enforcement and other companies so we can better understand what happened—and we’ll share any additional findings with law enforcement and Congress,” the company wrote. “However, we may never be able to identify the source with the same level of confidence we had in naming the IRA last year.”

You can read all of Facebook’s statement here.

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*First Published: Jul 31, 2018, 12:33 pm