Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Facebook Has Removed Hundreds of Accounts Linked to a Russian Troll Farm

I do not believe Facebook and other social media is doing all it can do to help counter Russian trolls, Russian fake news, and Russian disinformation. Russian information warfare efforts continue on a much wider and deeper level than just trolls. 

This article indicates Facebook is continuing to oust previous efforts by the Russian trolls in St. Petersburg to enable Russia attempting to influence the US election.  However…

Facebook data centers have the IP addresses which the Russian trolls used in the past. Many, if not most, are exit points from VPNs they used. A smaller number are from the troll farms themselves, the assumption being there are more than one. So-called “patriotic” trolls, hackers, and private Russians should also be tracked.

Facebook owns the data from these Russian fake accounts. This data, although fake, needs to be shared with Law Enforcement and perhaps the Intelligence Community. These fake profiles contain predilections, tendencies, and other indicators, which may allow intelligence and law enforcement entities to profile and recognize trolls in the future. 

Facebook data for Russian trolls must be compared and contrasted with Twitter, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and other Social Media accounts for the suspected Russian accounts. Commonalities and other indicators must be developed to enable algorithms to be developed to quickly recognize trolls, propaganda, and disinformation sources in the future.

These are but a few of the things I recommend we perform in the immediate.  As these are corporate and private efforts and not government or academic, Congress, the UK Parliament, and other law-generating bodies, should enable these efforts on a widespread basis.  Additionally, government efforts to support and enable these efforts must be funded, resourced, and enabled.

The noose countering foreign disinformation efforts must be tightened. 

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3:32 AM EDT

Facebook has removed more than 200 accounts and pages linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian company known for activating inauthentic accounts during the 2016 U.S. presidential race, in the social media giant’s latest effort to stem the spread of “fake news” on its platform.

The company deleted 135 Facebook and Instagram accounts and 138 Facebook Pages linked to the IRA that had reached a total of 1.5 million users, according to a blog post from Facebook’s Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos. The company also removed $167,000 worth of ads that had been purchased on both social networks, according to graphics released by Facebook.

“The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people who use Facebook, including before, during and after the 2016 US presidential elections,” Stamos wrote in the blog post, adding that Facebook would “remove every account” linked to the organization.

Most of the accounts and pages were in Russian language, targeting people who lived in Russia, Russian speakers living abroad or in neighboring countries such as Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine, the blog post said.

The St. Petersburg-based IRA is known for employing an army of so-called “trolls,” which posted misleading content catering to both sides of the political aisle during the 2016 election.

In March, the IRA was among five Russian firms and 19 individuals hit with sanctionsby the Trump administration for alleged election interference. In February, Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller also issued an indictment against the IRA, citing its efforts to “promote discord in the United States and undermine public confidence in democracy.”