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Facebook and Twitter Dismantle Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

Facebook recently deleted 32 Pages and accounts attempting to influence the US mid-term elections

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Facebook, Twitter remove hundreds of accounts tied to Iran, Russia. VOA
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Facebook and Twitter have removed hundreds of accounts originating in Iran and Russia that were designed to mislead people across multiple Internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, Britain and the US.

While Facebook has removed 652 pages, groups and accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” that originated in Iran and Russia, Twitter suspended 284 accounts, many of which originated from Iran.

“We’re still investigating, and we have shared what we know with the US and UK governments. Since there are US sanctions involving Iran, we’ve also briefed the US Treasury and State Departments,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Working with our industry peers today, we have suspended 284 accounts from Twitter for engaging in coordinated manipulation. Based on our existing analysis, it appears many of these accounts originated from Iran,” Twitter said.

These campaigns created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing, according to Facebook.

Facebook also removed Pages, groups and accounts that can be linked to sources the US government had previously identified as Russian military intelligence services.

“While these are some of the same bad actors we removed for cybersecurity attacks before the 2016 US election, this more recent activity focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine,” Facebook said.

For example, these accounts are associated with Inside Syria Media Centre, which the Atlantic Council and other organisations have identified for covertly spreading pro-Russian and pro-Assad content.

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Twitter on a smartphone device. VOA

“We’re working closely with US law enforcement on this investigation, and we appreciate their help. These investigations are ongoing – and given the sensitivity we aren’t sharing more information about what we removed,” Facebook added.

Facebook acted on these accounts after FireEye, a global cybersecurity firm, gave it information in July about “Liberty Front Press”, a network of Facebook Pages as well as accounts on other online services.

Based on FireEye’s tip, Facebook started an investigation into “Liberty Front Press” and identified additional accounts and Pages from their network.

“We are able to link this network to Iranian state media through publicly available website registration information, as well as the use of related IP addresses and Facebook Pages sharing the same admins,” Facebook informed.

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The first “Liberty Front Press” accounts were created in 2013. Some of these attempted to conceal their location, and primarily posted political content focused on the Middle East, as well as the UK, US and Latin America.

Beginning in 2017, they increased their focus on the UK and US.

Accounts and Pages linked to “Liberty Front Press” typically posed as news and civil society organisations sharing information in multiple countries without revealing their true identity, said Facebook.

Facebook recently deleted 32 Pages and accounts attempting to influence the US mid-term elections. (IANS)

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Twitter Gets a Bug And Releases DM’s of 3 Mn Users To a Third Party Application

Twitter said it found no sign that hackers accessed the exposed data.

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Twitter on a smartphone device. Pixabay

A bug in Twitter’s platform for third-party app developers exposed some Direct Messages (DMs) from nearly 3 million users to outsiders, the micro-blogging platform has admitted.

The bug ran from May 2017 and within hours of discovering it on September 10, Twitter said it fixed the bug to prevent data from being unintentionally sent to the incorrect developer.

“The bug affected less than 1 per cent of people on Twitter. The bug may have caused some of these interactions to be unintentionally sent to another registered developer,” Twitter said in a blog post on Saturday.

Twitter
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey testifies before a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on foreign influence operations and their use of social media on Capitol Hill. VOA

“In some cases, this may have included certain DMs or protected tweets, for example a Direct Message with an airline that had authorised an Account Activity API (AAAPI) developer.”

The Account Activity API allows registered developers to build tools to better support businesses and their communications with customers on Twitter.

Twitter currently has over 336 million users and one per cent means nearly 3 million of those were affected.

Twitter
The logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

If your business authorised a developer using the AAAPI to access your account, the bug may have impacted your activity data in error.

“We’re very sorry this happened. If your account was affected by this bug, we will contact you directly through an in-app notice and on twitter.com,” said the company.

In May, the micro-blogging platform asked its 336 million users to change their password across its services after it discovered a bug that stored passwords in plain text in an internal system.

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Twitter said it found no sign that hackers accessed the exposed data but advised users that they should enter a new password on all services where their current password has been used. (IANS)