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Pavel Burian

September 3, 2020 Politics

Facebook removes Russian disinformation network

Facebook removes Russian disinformation network - Czech Points

The social network Facebook announced on Tuesday that in August, it blocked the nascent Russian disinformation operation with links to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which the American media describe as part of Russia’s efforts to influence the previous US presidential election. The removed network of accounts and sites also targeted American audiences but did not receive much response. 

ABC News subsequently reported that the US Department of Homeland Security had stopped distributing a document in the summer, highlighting Russia’s alleged attempt to defame Joe Biden.

Facebook reported on the block of the Russian operation in a new report on the fight against “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” which means the mass use of fraudulent accounts and sites, for example, for a foreign actors benefit. Last month, the company also took action against a US-led network targeting users in Latin America and an operation originating in Pakistan.

According to a Facebook report, the Russian network was relatively small, consisting of 13 accounts and two pages. It was removed following a warning from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Her activity was allegedly aimed at audiences in the United States and Britain, Egypt, and Algeria. 

According to an analysis by Graphika, which in similar cases is cooperating with the Facebook security team, the operation was still “in its infancy” at the time of removal, and its content did not collect more responses or shares.

However, attention is drawn to the IRA’s connection, which is considered one of the primary sources of misinformation related to the last US presidential election. According to experts, the group no longer exists in the same form as it did four years ago. Facebook is now talking about the misconduct of “individuals associated with the past activities” of this organization. The California company said that since 2017 it has intervened against a dozen disinformation operations connected to the IRA, which is also referred to as the St. Petersburg “troll farm.”

According to The New York Times, Tuesday’s announcement by the social network provides the first public information that “a group supported by the Kremlin is trying to repeat its 2016 efforts and push voters away from the presidential candidate for Democrats.” This conclusion is supported by the findings of analysts at Graphik, who state that the new Russian operation was an attempt to “build a left-wing audience and divert them from Biden’s campaign in the same way that the original IRA sought to suppress progressive and minority support for Hillary Clinton.”

The US election of 2016, according to an investigation by Congress and US security forces, became the target of a systematic Russian campaign to influence their outcome in favor of the later winner Donald Trump. In recent months, warnings have been mounting that Moscow, despite its continued refusal to interfere in the democratic process in the United States, is continuing activities of this kind.

In this direction, another story was reported today by ABC News television, which got to the working version of a document covering the election campaign in foreign media. Among other things, the report drew attention to Russia’s alleged attempt to convince US voters that former Vice President Biden “is not mentally fit” to serve as president. This motif also appears in the official communication of Trump’s election staff.

ABC News states that the document was initially supposed to be sent to federal and local security forces on July 9. But, its distribution was stopped after the intervention by the agency’s management. This stated in response to the report that the document did not meet internal standards, and therefore its sharing was “delayed.”