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Facebook dismantles networks targeting elections in the U.S., Latin America and Africa

Facebook says it has discovered extensive Russian and Iranian online networks working through its platform that are dedicated to influencing and disrupting political activity in more than two dozen countries. The networks, composed of thousands of Facebook and Instagram accounts, target political parties and campaigns in the U.S., North Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, including Ecuador.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked Tuesday to reporters about attacks on foreign elections.

Facebook said Monday that it had taken down four foreign interference operations originating in Iran and Russia, including one targeting the U.S. 2020 presidential elections that appears to be linked to the Russian troll agency, the Internet Research Agency. It also said it discovered “illegal social media activity” generated at the Russian state news agencies Sputnik and Russia Today (RT).

“The main purpose of these networks was to generate propaganda to influence voters in upcoming elections,” a Facebook statement said. “The administrators of these pages and the owners of the accounts presented themselves as local people,” Facebook said. “They used fake accounts to post in groups and managed pages that were posing as news organizations. They also directed traffic to domains outside the platform.”

The statement continued: “We have disassembled these networks and deleted thousands of fake accounts.”

In Latin America the troll campaign was aimed at Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela.

In the Middle East and North Africa, the fake accounts reused content from Iranian public media on issues such as Hezbollah (the militant Shiite Islamic organization), the conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia, tensions between Israel and Palestine, as well as between Iran and the United States, the war in Yemen between the Saudi coalition and the Houthi rebels, among other matters of global geopolitics, Facebook said.

In the U.S., Facebook said that former vice president Biden was a major target of Russian propaganda.

In a phone link to the media, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the Russian and Iranian troll networks were discovered by staff members following up on tips from outside investigators. He said Facebook was “redoubling its efforts to keep outside influencers from the political life of independent countries.”

His comments appeared to be an attempt to walk back early concerns about interfering with the right of free speech on social media.

25 thoughts on “Facebook dismantles networks targeting elections in the U.S., Latin America and Africa

  1. Why are they not finding and dismantling operations originating in the U.S. to disrupt elections in foreign countries? Is it because FB is a DARPA project?????

  2. Russia just can’t keep its nose out of other countries’ business. Once a commie, always a commie, I guess.

      1. Americans have opposing standards for different things…a selective myopia, a fact which is obscured by their education and training. If they place military bases in 120 countries not their own or beam political propaganda non-stop to other nations, it is perfectly ok, even righteous. They give warm and fuzzy names to it..like Radio Free Europe and other such silliness.

        Within their country, there is also different rules for Republicans and all others. Fascinating to watch. Curiously, they are making no real effort to stop similar foreign incursions into their own political process, as long as those benefiting are in power.

              1. That seems to be your stock answer for many posts you are responding to, but your snarkyness isn’t at all helpful, nor does it make you look very bright.

  3. This shows the importance of fact-checking anything suspicious, including evaluating the source of it. If we receive posts that have not been vetted, we should do the work for the OP and comment on the thread if not credible.

  4. So, Mossad agent Zuckerberg gets to say who voices their opinions, and who does not. Well, his parents were Israeli spies, which is how he got into Harvard. Like father, like son. FB is an extension of the spy world.

    1. Hiram,
      Your comment is no surprise. Intolerance spikes when people get frightened. Latins, blacks, Asians get a lot of abuse. But the traditional goto whipping post is Jews. I am NO fan of Netanyahu..he is merely a smarter Trump-type unworthy of serious consideration. Think of intolerance as a thermometer of the state of the species.

      So I am not surprised to see your comment and I am not surprised to see CHL allowed its posting. These are troubled times and a good part of humanity is nothing to be proud of when stressed. It says volumes about both of you. 😉

  5. A couple months back, Twitter shut down a network run by Moreno’s government to give the impression that he had any support left. The mainstream press and CHL falsely reported that it was being run by Correa’s supporters. Sadly, they still haven’t printed a correction even though the correct information is right there on Twitter’s own blog.

  6. Gee, next they’ll be onto the zillion networks that target Georgia, Ohio, Illinois etc. run by the Koch brothers to influence voting patterns…Nah, they know who pays the bills..

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