Facebook takedowns reveal sophistication of Russian trolls

Facebook takedowns reveal sophistication of Russian trolls
In this Jan. 9, 2019, file photo, media and guests mingle before a tour of Facebook's new 130,000-square-foot offices, which occupy the top three floors of a 10-story Cambridge, Mass. building. Facebook and Twitter's announcements Thursday, March 12, 2020, that they have removed dozens of accounts and pages from their services show that Russia's efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election are getting more sophisticated and harder to detect. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Facebook and Twitter revealed evidence Thursday suggesting that Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election are getting more sophisticated and harder to detect.

The companies said they have removed dozens of fake accounts and pages from their services.

Facebook said the network of accounts it removed was in the "early stages" of building an audience. It was operated by people in Ghana and Nigeria on behalf of individuals in Russia. The accounts posted about topics such as black history, celebrity gossip and fashion.

Twitter, meanwhile, said the accounts it removed tried to sow discord by emphasizing such as race and without favoring any particular candidate or ideology.

The tactics the accounts used to avoid detection—and that Russia has essentially outsourced the work to countries in West Africa—shows that remains a challenge for Facebook in the months leading to November.

The accounts Facebook took down focused on stoking racial divisions. Some posed as legitimate non-governmental organizations in order to deceive people.

The takedowns follow a report last week that found Moscow's campaign of election interference hasn't let up since 2016, and in fact has gotten more difficult to detect.

That report, from University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Young Mie Kim, found that Russia-linked are posting about the same divisive issues—race relations, gun laws and immigration—as they did in 2016, when the Kremlin polluted American voters' feeds with messages about the . Facebook has since removed those accounts as well.

Last month, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that Russia was still waging "information warfare" with an army of fictional social media personas and bots that spread disinformation.

Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in U.S. elections.


Explore further

Facebook halts small Iranian group targeting U.S. users on social network

© 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Citation: Facebook takedowns reveal sophistication of Russian trolls (2020, March 13) retrieved 29 November 2020 from https://techxplore.com/news/2020-03-facebook-takedowns-reveal-sophistication-russian.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
3 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments