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Facebook Blocks Accounts Engaged in Malicious Activities

On November 4, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tipped Facebook off about online activity that they believed was linked to foreign entities

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Facebook releases Messenger redesign on Android, iOS. Pixabay

The Facebook crackdown on accounts engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” on its platform and on Instagram continues.

“Combined with our takedown last Monday, we have removed 36 Facebook accounts, six Pages and 99 Instagram accounts for coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy, said in a blog post on Wednesday.

These accounts were mostly created after mid-2017, apart from a few outliers.

“We found a total of about 1.25 million people followed at least one of these Instagram accounts, with over 600,000 of them located in the US,” Gleicher added.

On November 5, Facebook blocked 30 accounts on its platform and 85 accounts on Instagram.

“We found a total of about 65,000 followers of at least one of the Facebook Pages, which contained posts almost exclusively in French. About 60 followers were located in the US,” said Facebook.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

There was about $4,500 in ad spend from these Pages, and none of the ads ran in the US.

“We didn’t find any ad spend on Instagram, and these accounts seem to have mostly been in English,” the social networking giant added.

On November 6, a website claiming to be associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russia-based troll farm, published a list of Instagram accounts they said that they had created.

“We had already blocked most of them, and based on our internal investigation, we blocked the rest,” said Gleicher.

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On November 4, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) tipped Facebook off about online activity that they believed was linked to foreign entities.

“Based on this tip off, we quickly identified a set of accounts that appeared to be engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” said the company. (IANS)

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New Zealand, France Plan in Effort to Stop Promotion of Terrorism, Violent Extremism on Social Media

A lone gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, while livestreaming the massacre on Facebook

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FILE - The Facebook logo is seen on a shop window in Malaga, Spain, June 4, 2018. (VOA)

In the wake of the Christchurch attack, New Zealand said on Wednesday that it would work with France in an effort to stop social media from being used to promote terrorism and violent extremism.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in a statement that she will co-chair a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on May 15 that will seek to have world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge, called the Christchurch Call, to eliminate terrorist and violent extremist content online.

A lone gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, while livestreaming the massacre on Facebook.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist, has been charged with 50 counts of murder for the mass shooting.

christchurch attack, new zealand, facebook
Students light candles as they gather for a vigil to commemorate victims of Friday’s shooting, outside the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, March 18, 2019. (VOA)

“It’s critical that technology platforms like Facebook are not perverted as a tool for terrorism, and instead become part of a global solution to countering extremism,” Ardern said in the statement.

“This meeting presents an opportunity for an act of unity between governments and the tech companies,” she added.

The meeting will be held alongside the Tech for Humanity meeting of G7 digital ministers, of which France is the chair, and France’s separate Tech for Good summit, both on 15 May, the statement said.

Ardern said at a press conference later on Wednesday that she has spoken with executives from a number of tech firms including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, Google and few other companies.

“The response I’ve received has been positive. No tech company, just like no government, would like to see violent extremism and terrorism online,” Ardern said at the media briefing, adding that she had also spoken with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg directly on the topic.

christchurch attack, facebook, new zealand
Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2.7 billion users, has faced criticism since the Christchurch attack that it failed to tackle extremism. VOA

A Facebook spokesman said the company looks forward to collaborating with government, industry and safety experts on a clear framework of rules.

“We’re evaluating how we can best support this effort and who among top Facebook executives will attend,” the spokesman said in a statement sent by email. Facebook, the world’s largest social network with 2.7 billion users, has faced criticism since the Christchurch attack that it failed to tackle extremism.

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One of the main groups representing Muslims in France has said it was suing Facebook and YouTube, a unit of Alphabet’s Google, accusing them of inciting violence by allowing the streaming of the Christchurch massacre on their platforms.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said last month that the company was looking to place restrictions on who can go live on its platform based on certain criteria. (VOA)