Facebook Struck Down 2 More Operations in Russia for Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior

Networks of accounts were created to mislead people

This network focused on Austria, the Baltics, Germany, Spain, Ukraine and the U.K. Facebook
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Facebook uncovered more coordinated inauthentic behavior in Russia and took action against two separate operations originating in that country.

Head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a Newsroom post that both operations created networks of accounts to mislead people about who they were and what they were doing.

The first operation consisted of 62 accounts, 10 pages and 25 groups, all on Facebook, originating in Russia but focusing their coordinated inauthentic behavior on Ukraine.

Gleicher said fake accounts were used to run pages and groups, disseminate their content, boost engagement and drive traffic to an off-Facebook domain, with the content on local and political topics including the military conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russian politics, political news in Europe, politics in Ukraine and the Syrian civil war.

About 34,000 Facebook accounts followed one or more of these pages, and some 86,000 belonged to at least one of the groups.

Advertising was a non-factor among this operation, as one ad ran in March 2017, costing roughly $1.

He added that many accounts run by the same people were already disabled and shared examples of some of the content from accounts removed in this wave:

[Image update on May 6, 2019 at 10:15AM PT] Top text: “…Crimea is transferred as a sign of eternal friendship of UkSSR and RSFSR”. Bottom left text: Klimkin congratulated Ukrainians with the cease of the Treaty of Friendship with Russia. The irony is that it contained an article recognizing the borders of Ukraine. The article is no longer in force, and with that, one can congratulate Klimkin and Poroshenko. “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity” – A. Einstein. Bottom right text: As of today, the Russian Federation has no borderland, but there is a territory occupied by Nazi gangs.
Headline: The Russian Federation’s MoD has blamed the Ukrainian armed forces for intentional attacks on Russian journalists in Donetsk.
Post: Forgive, my sister, Yugoslavia.. [website URL] On March 24, 1999, the air force of NATO countries launched “Operation Allied Force” against the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The result of the bombing was the rejection of the historical region of Kosovo and Metohija from Serbia. [website URL] 20 years later, NATO still believes that the bombing of Yugoslavia was necessary and legitimate. [website URL]

The second operation was made up of 16 Facebook accounts, four Facebook pages and one Instagram account, with around 1,100 accounts following one or more of the pages and some 80 following the Instagram account.

Gleicher said the network emanated from Russia and focused on Austria, the Baltics, Germany, Spain, Ukraine and the U.K., using fake accounts to join groups, impersonate other users and amplify allegations about a public figure working on behalf of intelligence services.

They posted content related to local politics, including immigration, religious issues and NATO. Gleicher shared examples of content from the removed pages:

Headline: Migration Chaos: missing documents are the main reason for suspension of deportation of asylum seekers whose applications have been denied. Subhead: Missing documents/documentation are the main reason for asylum seekers whose application has been denied and who are obliged to leave the country [to still remain] in Germany.
Post: Spain does not know what justice is A Vox seat needs almost 112k votes and a PSOE one 60k. Image Text: How much is worth each seat?

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
Publish date: May 6, 2019 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/facebook-struck-down-2-more-operations-in-russia-for-coordinated-inauthentic-behavior/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT