Facebook announced the removal of 32 fake accounts and pages on Facebook and Instagram that were suspected to have exhibited political influence campaign to manipulate voters ahead of the mid- term US elections in November.
The Modus Operandi is consistent and at an early stage and hence the group behind this suspicious act is anonymous. The campaign bears resemblance to the propaganda campaign run by Internet Research Agency (IRA), Russian based company charged for attempting to influence 2016 US presidential elections by Department of Justice. IRA is again gaining eyes for this scam but there are no evidence relating to these assumptions.
Facebook has identified 17 suspect profiles on Facebook, 8 suspicious Facebook pages and 7 Instagram profiles which it removed soon after they were suspected.
The popular Fake accounts (now removed) with Maximum followers include:
The remaining pages had either no follower or maximum of ten followers. According to the preliminary investigation these accounts were created between March 2017 and May 2018.
According to Facebook’s cyber security researchers, culprits this time adopted extra caution to hide their identity as compared to 2016 presidential elections.
They are known to have used VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) to hide their location.
Although Facebbok has identified some connection between IRA and the newly registered fake Facebook accounts. One of the IRA accounts (now disabled) shared a FaceBook event hosted by Resister’s page (one of the suspected fake accounts removed by FaceBook ). The page also listed an IRA account for only 7 minutes as one its admins.
However, no evidence of Russian IP (Internet Protocol) addresses was found to solidify the suspicion on IRA. The culprits may be IRA with improved capabilities or may be some other separate group as well.
FaceBook acknowledged in September 2017, that its platform was misused by Russians who created fake identities and accounts to influence US presidential elections in 2016. Fake comments, rally pics, street protests and ads were posted via these fake accounts to interfere with the campaign.
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