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Facebook shuts down accounts owned by Russia-based IRA

The social network later suspended Cambridge Analytica for violating its policies and commitments. Cambridge Analytica received user data from a Facebook app

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Facebook warned investors that there may be more such data breaches in the future. Pixabay

Facebook has removed several accounts owned by Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), the group accused of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

“We removed 70 Facebook and 65 Instagram accounts — as well as 138 Facebook Pages — that were controlled by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), Alex Stamos, Chief Security Officer at Facebook, said in a blog post late on Tuesday.

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Facebook also removed Cambridge Analytica. Pixabay

Many of the Pages also ran ads, all of which have been removed. “Of the Pages that had content, the vast majority of them (95 per cent) were in Russian — targeted either at people living in Russia or Russian-speakers around the world including from neighbouring countries like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine,” Stamos said, who is reportedly planning to leave the company by August.

The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people who use Facebook, including before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections. “We removed this latest set of Pages and accounts solely because they were controlled by the IRA — not based on the content,” said Stamos.

Also Read: Aircel, Jio, or Facebook: Will the Giants be Accountable?

This included commentary on domestic and international political issues, the promotion of Russian culture and tourism as well as debate on more everyday issues. The US Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation team is investigating into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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Facebook users’ data is still out in the open unsafe. VOA

Facebook is also facing a backlash as a political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica that worked with Donald Trump’s election team allegedly harvested 50 million Facebook profiles of US voters to influence their choices at the ballot box.

The social network later suspended Cambridge Analytica for violating its policies and commitments. Cambridge Analytica received user data from a Facebook app years ago that purported to be a psychological research tool, though the firm was not authorised to have that information. IANS

Next Story

Facebook Kills 300 Fake Pages and Accounts Linked To Russia

The individuals handling these accounts primarily represented themselves as Ukrainian and they operated a variety of fake accounts while sharing local Ukrainian news stories

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Facebook, social media
Facebook kills over 300 Russia-linked fake accounts, Pages, (VOA)

Social networking giant Facebook on Thursday killed over 300 fake Pages and accounts linked to Russia that it said was “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, almost two years after the US presidential election.

The social media giant removed 364 Pages and accounts as part of a network that originated in Russia and operated in the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Central and Eastern European countries.

“The two operations we found originated in Russia, and one was active in a variety of countries while the other was specific to Ukraine.

“Despite their misrepresentations of their identities, we found that these Pages and accounts were linked to employees of Sputnik, a news agency based in Moscow, and that some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy, Facebook, wrote in a blog post.

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

About $135,000 were spent in ads, and paid for in euros, roubles and dollars, over a time span from October 2013 to now.

Around 790,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages (now taken down) on the social media platform.

“We’re taking down these Pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they post. In these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves,” Gleicher added.

The pages hosted about 190 events, with the most recent scheduled for January 2019, and about 1,200 people expressing interest in them.

We cannot confirm whether any of these events actually occurred, the company added.

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Facebook staring at bigger problems this year, warns analyst. VOA

Separately, the social networking giant removed another 107 pages, groups and accounts as well as 41 Instagram accounts that were designed to look like they were operating from Ukraine, but were in fact part of a network that originated in Russia.

Also Read: Facebook Violated Cyber Security Law: Vietnam

The individuals handling these accounts primarily represented themselves as Ukrainian and they operated a variety of fake accounts while sharing local Ukrainian news stories on topics ranging from weather, protests, NATO to health conditions at schools.

“We identified some technical overlap with Russia-based activity we saw prior to the US midterm elections, including behaviour that shared characteristics with previous Internet Research Agency (IRA) activity,” the company said. (IANS)