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Facebook Blocks Accounts ‘Meddling’ in US Mid-term Elections

In August, the social network removed 600 Pages and accounts originating from Russia and Iran for engaging in "inauthentic behaviour"

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Facebook to now track your time spent on its platform. Pixabay
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Facebook has blocked 30 accounts on its platform and 85 accounts on Instagram that may be engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” from foreign entities into the US mid-term elections.

According to the social networking giant, US law enforcement contacted them about online activity that they recently discovered and which they believe may be linked to foreign entities.

“We immediately blocked these accounts and are now investigating them,” Facebook said in a blog post late Monday.

“Almost all the Facebook Pages associated with these accounts appear to be in the French or Russian languages, while the Instagram accounts seem to have mostly been in English — some were focused on celebrities, others political debate,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook.

American voters were set to cast their ballots on Tuesday in mid-term elections that will determine control of the US Congress and indicate how the country feels about Donald Trump’s presidency.

“Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“But given that we are only one day away from important elections in the US, we wanted to let people know about the actions we’ve taken and the facts as we know them today,” Facebook said.

Facebook on October 26 removed 82 Pages, Groups and accounts for what it called “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” that originated in Iran and targeted people in the US and Britain.

The people behind these Pages and accounts represented themselves as US citizens, or in a few cases UK citizens — and they posted about politically charged topics such as race relations, opposition to the US President, and immigration on Facebook and Instagram.

Also Read- Richa Chadha Talks About Importance of Taking a Break

Facebook said about 1.02 million accounts followed at least one of these Pages, about 25,000 accounts joined at least one of these Groups, and more than 28,000 accounts followed at least one of these Instagram accounts.

In August, the social network removed 600 Pages and accounts originating from Russia and Iran for engaging in “inauthentic behaviour”. (IANS)

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Facebook Cannot Regulate Itself: U.S. Lawmakers

Now we know that once they knew the truth, top @Facebook executives did everything they could to hide it from the public.

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Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., center, talks with Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., right, during a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Capitol Hill. VOA

Democratic U.S. Representative David Cicilline, expected to become the next chairman of House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust panel, said on Wednesday that Facebook cannot be trusted to regulate itself and Congress should take action.

Cicilline, citing a report in the New York Times on Facebook’s efforts to deal with a series of crises, said on Twitter: “This staggering report makes clear that @Facebook executives will always put their massive profits ahead of the interests of their customers.”

“It is long past time for us to take action,” he said. Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said a year ago that the company would put its “community” before profit, and it has doubled its staff focused on safety and security issues since then. Spending also has increased on developing automated tools to catch propaganda and material that violates the company’s posting policies.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington about the use of Facebook data to target American voters in the 2016 election and data privacy. VOA

Other initiatives have brought increased transparency about the administrators of pages and purchasers of ads on Facebook. Some critics, including lawmakers and users, still contend that Facebook’s bolstered systems and processes are prone to errors and that only laws will result in better performance. The New York Timessaid Zuckerberg and the company’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, ignored warning signs that the social media company could be “exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe.” And when the warning signs became evident, they “sought to conceal them from public view.”

“We’ve known for some time that @Facebook chose to turn a blind eye to the spread of hate speech and Russian propaganda on its platform,” said Cicilline, who will likely take the reins of the subcommittee on regulatory reform, commercial and antitrust law when the new, Democratic-controlled Congress is seated in January.

Also Read: Social Media Laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

“Now we know that once they knew the truth, top @Facebook executives did everything they could to hide it from the public by using a playbook of suppressing opposition and propagating conspiracy theories,” he said.

“Next January, Congress should get to work enacting new laws to hold concentrated economic power to account, address the corrupting influence of corporate money in our democracy, and restore the rights of Americans,” Cicilline said. (VOA)