Published: Fri, August 24, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Facebook says it yanked hundreds of pages and accounts created to 'mislead'

Facebook says it yanked hundreds of pages and accounts created to 'mislead'

[Image: courtesy of Facebook] Separately, Facebook announced it had taken down additional pages, groups and accounts linked to Russian intelligence and focused on politics in Syria and Ukraine.

Microsoft said it had no evidence the hackers succeeded in compromising any user credentials or stole any data. Facebook reported accounts affiliated with the group promoted at least three Facebook events, but the company didn't respond to a request for more detail about the events or what they promoted.

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"Finally, we've removed Pages, groups and accounts that can be linked to sources the United States government has previously identified as Russian military intelligence services", the social media giant wrote in bold text.

Among the accounts was one from "Quest 4 Truth" claiming to be an independent Iranian media organization.

While that group did not appear to be attempting to influence the U.S. midterms, FireEye said its analysis "does not preclude such attempts being made".

The revelations demonstrated how the production of disinformation has become a global endeavor that involves multiple governments and shadowy actors who use sophisticated methods to mask their identities and locations. The Internet Research Agency, a Kremlin-linked group, was at the center of an indictment this year that alleged interference in the 2016 presidential election.

An internal investigation by Facebook found four groups across Facebook and Instagram which spent thousands of pounds on advertising and had hundreds of thousands of followers.

"These were distinct campaigns and we have not identified any link or coordination between them", the company said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under scrutiny after the company admitted that Russian agents ran political influence operations on the social network in 2016. In a statement, Sen.

Meanwhile, had reported that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, has said that he did not describe social media as a technology available to those that are criminal minded.

Senior executives at Facebook, Twitter and Google are scheduled to appear before the committee September 5 to discuss their company's efforts to head off foreign attempts to meddle in November's midterm elections.

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It also said it is engaging with other companies and law enforcement units to proceed with investigations into fake accounts.

Shortly after Facebook's announcement, Twitter revealed that it had also suspended 284 accounts for "coordinated manipulation", many of them apparently originating from Iran.

The second campaign was linked to the first one and involved 12 pages and 66 accounts on Facebook and nine on Instagram.

Postings cited by FireEye expressed praise for USA politicians and other Twitter users who criticized the Trump administration's decision in May to abandon the Iranian nuclear pact, under which Iran had agreed to curb its nuclear weapons program in exchange for loosening of sanctions. They signaled on Tuesday that they meant to move forward with developing punishing new sanctions in the coming weeks. Some of these attempted to hide their location, and primarily posted political content focused on the Middle East, as well as the UK, US and Latin America.

Tipped off by researchers from infosec outfit FireEye, Facebook has gone on another "fake news" killing spree, pulling more than 650 "inauthentic" pages pushing Iranian interests.

Another set of suspicious accounts and pages that originated in Iran could be traced to 2011.

They also promoted anti-Israel and anti-Saudi Arabia themes, as the two countries are Iran's main adversaries in the Middle East. Some included anti-Trump language and were tied to relations between the United States and Iran, including references to the Iranian nuclear weapons deal. One was between "Liberty Front Press" and other accounts posing as news organizations, attempting to hack user accounts and spreading malware. For its part, Twitter pretty quickly also removed accounts from the same set of political operatives of Iran and Russian Federation.

ProPublica clearly states: "The tool doesn't collect your personal information", and privacy controls ensure that the information that is being collected relates only to the advertisement that appeared on the site.

The "Liberty Front Press" network of Facebook pages was publishing cartoons praising the Labour leader, mocking the Queen and lampooning Brexit among other material.

Mr Collins said the fake news inquiry will release its final report in the autumn, after the Information Commissioner completes a parallel investigation into how Facebook handles users' personal information. Facebook did not comment on the content of the ads, or say who they were targeting.

Facebook started investigating coordinated activity by a network of Facebook pages after being alerted by a cybersecurity firm FireEye.

"We think that there's a lot of good work happening on both of those fronts", Zuckerberg said. "2018 is a very important election year", he said.

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