Home Trendy News Russia’s Internet Research Agency may have been behind Facebook election meddling

Russia’s Internet Research Agency may have been behind Facebook election meddling

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Russia’s Internet Research Agency may have been behind Facebook election meddling


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While voters faced some long lines and election equipment glitches, cybersecurity experts say any attempted tampering with the US election system may not be known immediately. (Nov. 7)
AP

SAN FRANCISCO – A web site claiming to represent Russia’s Internet Research Agency says it ran a network of fake accounts that attempted to interfere in the midterm elections.

Acting on a tip from the FBI, Facebook announced late Monday night that it removed more than 100 accounts – 30 on Facebook, 85 on Instagram – covertly engaging in orchestrated activity in French, English and Russian on the eve of the U.S. elections that it feared was linked to Russian operatives with ties to the Kremlin.

Late Tuesday night, Facebook issued another statement, this one saying a web site purporting to represent the Russian outfit had claimed responsibility and had published a list of Instagram accounts. 

“We had already blocked most of these accounts yesterday, and have now blocked the rest,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in a statement. “This is a timely reminder that these bad actors won’t give up.”

With Americans headed to the polls Tuesday, social media companies were on high alert for foreign interference, eager not to see a repeat of the 2016 presidential election when the IRA used Facebook, Google’s YouTube and Twitter to spread divisive messages on hot-button topics such as race and immigration to influence how people voted. 

The statement claiming to be from the IRA alleged Russian operatives not only influenced how Americans voted but rigged the outcomes in key races. The IRA The group is under indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The victory of the Democratic party is our top priority in these midterm elections,” the statement said. Democrats gained control of the House but Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate on Tuesday night.

The group offered up its picks to win their respective races. That list included some Election Night winners, but also Orrin Hatch, who’s retiring from the Senate and whose Utah seat was won by former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who is stepping down at the end of his term.

Security experts warned before Tuesday’s midterms that bad actors would attempt to take credit for election interference that did not occur. 

“Americans need to strike a careful balance between being wary for election manipulation and being skeptical of unsupported claims of manipulation,” former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos said Monday. 

After heavy criticism from lawmakers for failing to detect and purge election interference in 2016, Facebook has made safeguarding elections around the world one of its top priorities.

It has set up an elections “war room” on its campus in Menlo Park, California, where data scientists, engineers and other employees monitor foreign election manipulation, disinformation, voter suppression and other security challenges under a large American flag. It’s also hired more people and strengthened automated systems to monitor what’s posted on Facebook and it has introduced tighter controls on who can buy political ads.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors that his company was getting better at detecting foreign election interference but that “there are going to be things that our systems miss, no matter how well tuned we are.”

On Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray released a joint statement saying foreign operatives were seeking to influence American voters and might allege they pulled off election interference that did not take place.

“Americans should be aware that foreign actors – and Russia in particular – continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord,” the statement read. “They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics.”

More: Facebook uncovers Iran disinformation to sow political discord over Trump, race

More: Facebook discloses possible election meddling by Russia, foreign actors on eve of midterms

More: Who paid for that political ad in your Facebook feed? It’s not always easy to figure out

 

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/11/06/russias-ira-may-behind-facebook-instagram-election-interference/1916737002/

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