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Over 100 Facebook Accounts Blocked Prior to U.S. Midterm Elections

In April, Facebook closed some 270 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency.

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Facebook, U.S.
A man works in the war room, where Facebook monitors election-related content, in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA
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Facebook says it has blocked more than 100 accounts with potential ties to a so-called Russian “troll farm” that may have sought to interfere with Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections.

The social media giant said in a statement Wednesday that it had blocked the Facebook and Instagram accounts ahead of the vote. Facebook said it made the move after a tip from law enforcement officials.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a statement that the accounts were blocked late Monday over suspicions they were “engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is banned from our services.” Among those accounts blocked were 85 Instagram accounts and 30 Facebook pages, most of which were in French or Russian languages. The Instagram accounts were mostly English-language, Facebook said.

Facebook, U.S.
Facebook’s Samidh Chakrabarti, director of elections and civic engagement, from left, stands with Katie Harbath, global politics and government outreach director, and Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy, during a demonstration in the company’s war room, where election-related content is monitored, in Menlo Park, Calif. VOA

Investigators say the accounts may be linked to a group known as the Internet Research Agency, which is based in St. Petersburg, Russia. In February, a federal grand jury indicted the group over allegations of interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Gleicher called the recent discovery “a timely reminder that these bad actors won’t give up — and why it is so important we work with the U.S. government and other technology companies to stay ahead.”

Before Gleicher’s statement, the Internet Research Agency said in a statement that it was responsible for the accounts, although that has not been verified.

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This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

In its statement, the organization said, “Citizens of the United States of America! Your intelligence agencies are powerless. Despite all their efforts, we have thousands of accounts registered on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit spreading political propaganda.” The message was written in capital letters.

The statement also included a list of accounts to which the organization was supposedly attached.

Also Read: How Political Ads Work, A Guide by Facebook and Google

In April, Facebook closed some 270 accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency. Facebook also recently banned 82 accounts linked to Iran, that were posting politically charged memes. (VOA)

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Facebook Seeking To Patent a Software To Build User’s Profile

Around 29 million Facebook accounts were hacked in September

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Facebook seeks to patent software to analyse who lives with you. Pixabay

Despite facing flak for leakage of personal data of millions of its users in recent times, Facebook is seeking to patent a software that could help it build profile of an user’s household – the number of people in the household, the interests that they share, nature of their relationships or even the devices that they use.

The software, which could be used to target ads, would analyse images posted to Facebook or Instagram, The Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.

An online system that predicts household features of a user — household size and demographic composition — provides improved and targeted content delivery to the user and the user’s household, according to the patent application.

To help determine whether people live in the same home, the software could look at how often people are tagged in pictures together and at the captions of the photos, it said.

“Without such knowledge of a user’s household features, most of content items that are sent to the user are poorly tailored to the user and are likely ignored,” said the patent application, which was filed last year and made public on Thursday.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Facebook could also incorporate “past posts, status updates, friendships, messaging history, past tagging history” and web browsing history to put together a profile of a household or family, the report added.

The proposed online system seeks to apply one or more models trained using deep learning techniques to generate the predictions.

“For example, a trained image analysis model identifies each individual depicted in the photos of the user; a trained text analysis model derive household member relationship information from the user’s profile data and tags associated with the photos,” stated the application.

Also Read- Slow Reading Rate Increases Risk of Dry Eyes

Those profiles, in turn, could be made available to third parties that want to target “content” to users, it said.

Facebook told The Los Angeles Times that applying for the patent does not necessarily mean it will build or use the software.

Around 29 million Facebook accounts were hacked in September. (IANS)