By Nicholas Fandos and Kevin Roose
July 31, 2018
WASHINGTON — 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 around divisive social issues ahead of November’s midterm elections.
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.
Facebook said that the accounts — eight Facebook pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and seven Instagram accounts — were created between March 2017 and May 2018 and first discovered two weeks ago. Those numbers may sound small, but their influence is spreading: More than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the suspect pages, the company said.
Between April 2017 and June 2018, the accounts ran 150 ads costing $11,000 on the two platforms. They were paid for in American and Canadian dollars. And the pages created roughly 30 events over a similar time period, the largest of which attracted interest from 4,700 accounts.
The European Union passed a law that companies like Facebook, have just 24 hours to identify fake news and remove it in the European Union, or face a 50 Million Euro fine per incident. Facebook set up an HQ in Germany with 2000 analysts to remove all fake posts within 24 hours.
If only the GOP were patriots, they would pass similar legislation. But they are in bed with the Russians, it appears.