Facebook claims to have dug out of Russia a network of fake user accounts on Instagram. The executives had spent as resident in the US and spread controversial political messages, the company said.
What exactly was the goal, could not be said, said the responsible for cyber security manager Nathaniel Gleicher. There are "some connections" to the Russian organization Internet Research Agency (IRA). This is considered the "troll factory" of the Russian government. The US accuses the Russian government of intervening in the 2016 presidential election via the IRA. Russia rejects the allegations.
The network had, according to company information, 50 Instagram accounts and a Facebook account with a total of about 246,000 followers. According to an analysis of the social media analysis company Graphika, it sold over 75,000 posts. Including memes and screenshots of viral tweets.
The disseminated material could have addressed both Democrats and Republicans, said the involved in the investigation of security researcher of Graphika, Ben Nimmo. For the most part, members of the network had been busy copying "real material from real Americans." This could point to an attempt to cover up language deficits.
Labeling for state-controlled media
Facebook also announced the release of three Iranian networks. The company also announced several steps to stem the spread of propaganda and counterfeit messages. Thus, state-controlled media should be marked. Contributions that have been declared false by independent fact-testers should in future be accompanied by a note. Accounts of elected politicians, election candidates and their employees should be strengthened.
Facebook was shaken by several privacy scandals last year. Among other things, the data of about 87 million users had landed at the data analysis company Cambridge Analytica. The company later worked among others for the campaign team of US President Donald Trump. Because of data protection violations imposed the US consumer protection agency FTC a penalty in the amount of 4.5 billion euro against Facebook.