Facebook has closed 265 fake accounts, many of which are linked to an Israeli social media company, which was used to spread fake news and to influence political discourse in a number of countries – mainly in Africa, but also in Latin America and Southeast Asia.
The company announced on Thursday that the accounts that were on both Facebook and Instagram were working on what Facebook called "coordinated inauthentic behavior."
In the constant interaction with the use of social media as a platform for deploying political interference, companies such as Facebook and Twitter are struggling with the way their platforms have been used to spread disinformation. However, choosing a company like Facebook did with Archimedes Group is a new turn.
The company promises its customers that it can bend the reality for them. Archimedes Group, based in Tel Aviv, calls itself a leader in large-scale, global & # 39; campaigns & # 39; and promises to use every tool and exploit all available benefits to change the reality according to the wishes of our customer.
… at least, the site was promising that when the Washington Post wrote the news. The site is strange to navigate, so either I can't find that text, or maybe Archimedes Group has distorted the reality again … and modified the site to remove the "by all means" message.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook & # 39; s head of global cyber security policy, said in Thursday's report that the pages & accounts were not deleted due to their content. On the contrary, it was their coordinated behavior that triggered red flags:
As in other cases with coordinated non-authentic behavior, the people behind this activity coordinated each other to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing, and that was the basis for our action.
Gleicher said the people behind the network were using fake accounts to run Pages, distribute content, and artificially boost engagement. She also lied about being locals – including local news organizations – and published what allegedly leaked information about politicians.
Facebook's investigation revealed that part of the activity was linked to the Archimedes Group, which it banned from both the main platform and the Instagram service. Facebook has also sent the company a cancellation letter.
Before the ban, the Archimedes Group had 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 23 groups, 12 events, and four Instagram accounts. The pages & accounts have regularly published on politics, including elections, candidate's views and criticism of political opponents, especially targeted at the African nations of Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia, along with some Latin American activities America and Southeast Asia.
The pages & accounts had about 2.8 million followers and about 5,500 accounts were members of at least one of the groups. About 920 people followed one or more of the Instagram accounts.
Facebook says the accounts paid around $ 812,000 for Facebook ads, paid in Brazilian reals, Israeli shekels, and US dollars. The accounts reached their first advertisement in December 2012, while the most recent advertisement was shown last month.
The pages organized nine events between October 2017 and May 2019, where up to 2,900 people were interested in at least one of the events. Facebook could not determine whether one of those events actually took place.
Who's behind it?
While Facebook traced a large part of the coordinated, "non-authentic" behavior of Archimedes Group, it is unclear who paid the Israeli company for the disinformation campaign (s). Graham Brookie, director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, told the Washington Post that it is easy enough to follow the ad-buying money path to Archimedes, but then it gets blurred:
The handy thing about the ads is that it gives us complete confidence that it was Archimedes, but it doesn't give us much confidence in who paid Archimedes.
The lack of transparency in who is behind the first hink in the money path points to a vulnerability in Facebook's transparency tools, he noted. What we do know is that someone doesn't mind paying for fake news:
It is disinformation for money. It is the convergence of ideological disinformation and disinformation for economic gain.
The use of coordinated accounts in disinformation campaigns was one of the techniques used by the Russian government-related propaganda factory, known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), during the disinformation campaign around the 2016 US presidential election.
The use of both Facebook and Instagram was another agreement between the Archimedes Group and the IRA. In reports prepared for the Senate Intelligence Committee and published in December, researchers concluded that Facebook, Twitter or Google reached the most people, but that Instagram was the action: that is where disinformation and political interference were much more important.
In a long-standing propaganda campaign that preceded the elections and did not stop afterwards, Facebook's subsidiary generated a part that overshadowed the size of other platforms: researchers had 187 million Instagram responses, likes and other user responses, which was more than Twitter and Facebook combined.
But just because the Archimedes group used similar tactics as the IRA, nothing more suggests that the Archimedes group, like others around the world, could easily take a page from the Russian playbook. Despite this, disinformation campaigns and the tactics they use are now widely used around the world, experts told the Post – including in the US.
. (tagsToTranslate) facebook (t) fake news (t) instagram (t) social networks (t) 2016 us presidential election (t) disinformation (t) election interference (t) facebook (t) fake news (t) internet research agency (t) propaganda