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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
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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

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Facebook Introduces New Tools to Protect Elections Globally

In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Senate, saying they were too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference

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Facebook expands security tools to protect elections globally. Pixabay

In order to further secure candidates and campaign staff vulnerable to hackers and nation-state actors during the elections, Facebook has introduced additional tools to protect political campaigns in the US and around the world.

The social media giant has launched a pilot programme to expand its existing protections for users associated with US political campaigns ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections.

“Candidates for federal or statewide office, as well as staff members and representatives from federal and state political party committees, can add additional security protections to their Pages and accounts,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, wrote in a blog post late on Monday.

“We’ll help officials adopt our strongest account security protections, like two-factor authentication, and monitor for potential hacking threats,” Gleicher added.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

Over the past year, the company has invested in new technology and more people to stay ahead of bad actors who are determined to use Facebook to disrupt elections.

“This pilot programme is an addition to our existing security tools and procedures, and we will apply what we learn to other elections in the US and around the world,” said Facebook.

“As we detect abuse, we will continue to share relevant information with law enforcement and other companies so we can maximise our effectiveness,” it added.

According to a report in Download, a working paper released last week revealed a significant drop-off in the engagements 570 fake news sites received on Facebook since the 2016 US presidential elections.

“At its peak, there were 200 million monthly engagements with the sites. As of July 2018, that’s dropped to 70 million,” the report added.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Senate, saying they were too slow to spot and respond to Russian interference.

“Our sophistication in handling these threats is growing and improving quickly. We now have about 15,000 people working on security and content review. We’ll have more than 20,000 by the end of this year,” he told the lawmakers.

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The Facebook CEO apologised for what happened and took responsibility for everything. He also said that there is an online propaganda “arms race” with Russia and it was important to make sure no one interferes in any more elections, including in India.

“The most important thing I care about right now is making sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world,” he testified before a 44-Senator panel. (IANS)