Facebook says it has detected a coordinated effort to use its social network to influence American politics ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.On Tuesday, the social network announced it had banned 32 pages and accounts that were engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and organized dozens of real-world events — and it said there were similarities to previous Russian disinformation campaigns.”We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this,” Facebook said in a blog post. “But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week.”
Russia was found to have used Facebook to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election — notably through a troll farm called the Internet Research Agency — but Facebook is not explicitly linking the new efforts to Russia.
“We can’t say for sure if this is the IRA with improved capabilities or a different group based on what we know today,” Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said on a call with reporters on Tuesday.Thirty events created by the inauthentic pages had already taken place, Facebook representatives said on the call, adding that the pages were taken down ahead of one event scheduled for August 10 in Washington, DC. The event, called “No Unite The Right 2 — DC,” a counterprotest of a far-right rally, attracted several hundred users who said they were interested in it or planned to attend, Facebook said.The news was earlier reported by The New York Times, which said lawmakers on Capitol Hill were told this week.
Facebook said it found eight pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and seven Instagram accounts that were part of the effort with over 290,000 total followers.
“The most followed Facebook Pages were ‘Aztlan Warriors,’ ‘Black Elevation,’ ‘Mindful Being,’ and ‘Resisters,'” Facebook said. “The remaining Pages had between zero and 10 followers, and the Instagram accounts had zero followers.”