Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity ahead of November’s midterm elections, according to three people briefed on the matter.
In a series of briefings on Capitol Hill this week and a public post on Tuesday, the company told lawmakers that it had detected and removed 32 pages and accounts connected to the influence campaign on Facebook and Instagram as part of its investigations into election interference. It publicly said it had been unable to tie the accounts to Russia, whose Internet Research Agency was at the center of an indictment earlier this year for interfering in the 2016 election, but company officials told Capitol Hill that Russia was possibly involved, according to two officials briefed on the matter.
Like the Russian interference campaign in 2016, the recently detected campaign dealt with divisive social issues.
Facebook discovered coordinated activity around issues like a sequel to last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Specifically, a page called “Resisters,” which interacted with one Internet Research Agency account in 2017, created an event called “No Unite the Right 2 — DC” to serve as a counterprotest to the white nationalist gathering, scheduled to take place in Washington in August. Mr. Gleicher said “inauthentic” administrators for the “Resisters” page went as far as to coordinate with administrators for five other apparently real pages to co-host the event, publicizing details about transportation and other logistics.
Mr. Gleicher said it disabled the event on Tuesday and notified 2,600 users of the site who had indicated interest in attending the event.
Coordinated activity was also detected around #AbolishICE, a left-wing campaign on social media that seeks to end the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to two people briefed on the findings. That echoed efforts in 2016 to fan division around the Black Lives Matter movement.
American intelligence and law enforcement officials have been warning for months that Russia’s efforts to undermine American democracy remain active and pose a threat to this year’s elections. If in fact Russian, the activity would provide vivid evidence that the kind of cyber operations used around the 2016 campaign were still in use.
I sometimes have contact with current or former people in the intelligence community. I don’t have any specific information but “it is well known” the Russians like to create internal conflict in their enemies. It is a part of their culture and even have a word for it (sorry, I don’t remember it). I have been told they organized both anti-Hillary and anti-Trump events in 2016. It’s what they do. Hacking into the DNC and Hillary’s email servers and releasing the contents wasn’t necessarily to help elect Trump. It was to create conflict.
I have to wonder… is a lot of the conflict on social media regarding firearms fueled by Russia? When you are debating some twit on Twitter are you actually wasting time talking to a paid Russian troll?