We won’t need Russia in 2020. We will hijack our democracy ourselves. And Facebook is sure to be a major factor in that hijacking – once again. The platform is ripe for further exploitation by domestic forces bent on distorting the political conversation and stirring up irrational passions in a way sure to benefit Donald Trump’s re-election efforts. The continued proliferation of white supremacists on Facebook, and its refusal to block a heavily doctored video of House speaker Nancy Pelosi, are just the latest demonstrations of Facebook’s cowardice. Despite scrutiny in the three years since Facebook’s troublesome role in Trump’s 2016 election – embedding Facebook staff in the campaign itself, hosting millions of dollars of targeted ad spending, and distributing false and divisive messages sponsored by Russia and meant to divide the United States and promote Trump – Facebook remains vulnerable to the sorts of divisive propaganda that motivate nationalist and authoritarian movements. This was evident in recent elections in Brazil, Italy, and India, where nationalist forces assumed power with the aid of Facebook-centric election campaigns filled with vitriol and conspiracy theories. Such propaganda starts with a concerted effort using platforms other than Facebook, such as Reddit, YouTube, state-sponsored systems like Russia’s RT, or private media like Fox News in the US. The messages then migrate to Facebook, with its 220 million American users and 2.4 billion users worldwide. Once there, Facebook’s algorithms take over, amplifying extremist content and connecting susceptible people who might never otherwise find each other. It’s a complex ecosystem that can’t be examined properly by isolating its elements. What happens on Reddit and Fox changes Facebook, and what happens on Facebook changes Reddit and Fox.Full Article: Facebook is ripe for exploitation - again - in 2020 | Opinion | The Guardian.
Facebook says it has removed more than 200 “inauthentic” accounts targeting people in Moldova, some of which were linked to government employees. Moldovans go to the polls on 24 February under a new electoral system. One of Europe’s poorest countries, it is politically split between pro-Western and pro-Russian factions. Facebook said the accounts posted about divisive political issues, shared manipulated photos, and impersonated a local fact checking-organisation.Full Article: Moldovan election prompts Facebook to remove accounts - BusinessGhana.
Israel: Facebook Introduces Election Protection Features to Israel’s Central Elections Committee | CTech
Two months ahead of Israel’s general election, Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director Katie Harbath met Sunday with Israel’s Central Elections Committee, the committee announced Monday. The meeting took place following correspondence between the committee and Facebook concerning the ways in which the social media company is planning to increase transparency ahead of the Israeli election process. In the meeting, Facebook representatives reiterated the company’s plans to launch special features in Israel in March, including the association of political ads with the advertising page, and the launch of a political ad archive. Facebook will also prevent users from posting political ads from outside the country.Full Article: Facebook Introduces Election Protection Features to Israel’s Central Elections Committee - CTech.
Facebook Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said the company will work with the German ministry for information security in a broad effort to guide policy here and throughout Europe on election interference. The collaboration will build upon previous work between the social network and the regulator during the 2017 federal elections in Germany, Ms. Sandberg said. The effort is part of continued work by Facebook to strengthen its platform against interference. The Integrity & Security Initiative will be a cooperation between Facebook, the German office and other companies and research partners, Ms. Sandberg said, ahead of European Union parliamentary elections this spring. The German cybersecurity watchdog will spearhead the initiative, a person familiar with the matter said. A spokesman for the German Federal Office for Information Security didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. It wasn’t immediately clear which other companies or researchers may be participating in the initiative.Full Article: Facebook, Germany to Collaborate Against Election Interference - WSJ.
Two years on from the U.S. presidential election, Facebook continues to have a major problem with Russian disinformation being megaphoned via its social tools. In a blog post today the company reveals another tranche of Kremlin-linked fake activity — saying it’s removed a total of 471 Facebook pages and accounts, as well as 41 Instagram accounts, which were being used to spread propaganda in regions where Putin’s regime has sharp geopolitical interests. In its latest reveal of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” — aka the euphemism Facebook uses for disinformation campaigns that rely on its tools to generate a veneer of authenticity and plausibility in order to pump out masses of sharable political propaganda — the company says it identified two operations, both originating in Russia, and both using similar tactics without any apparent direct links between the two networks.Full Article: Facebook finds and kills another 512 Kremlin-linked fake accounts | TechCrunch.
Texas: Russian Trolls Successfully Peddled Texas Pride in 2016, Senate Reports Say | Dallas Observer
If you thought Texas’ Facebook fever swamp got especially weird as the 2016 election approached, you were right. According to a couple of new, third-party reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm behind the country’s fake news campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, specifically targeted Texas with one of its most successful pages. According to one of the reports — from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project — a page managed by the Russian agency called “Heart of Texas” racked up the third-most likes of any page managed by the group, with 5.5 million. Users shared posts from the page nearly 5 million times and made more than 400,000 comments before Facebook shut it down in September 2017.Full Article: Russian Trolls Targeted Texas in 2016 | Dallas Observer.
Facebook is shutting down a series of fake news sites spreading false information about the Bangladesh opposition days before national elections, an official from the social media platform told The Associated Press. The sites — nine Facebook pages designed to mimic legitimate news outlets, as well as six fake personal accounts spreading anti-opposition propaganda — were created by Bangladeshis with government ties, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in an exclusive interview. The sites would be shut down “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior” by Thursday evening at the latest, he said by telephone from California. A threat intelligence company that Facebook worked with determined that the people who created and managed the sites are “associated with the government,” he said, declining to provide further details.Full Article: AP Exclusive: Facebook removes fake Bangladesh news sites.
National: Voter Suppression and Racial Targeting: In Facebook’s and Twitter’s Words | The New York Times
A report submitted to a Senate committee about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 election says that social media companies made misleading or evasive claims about whether the efforts tried to discourage voting or targeted African-Americans on their platforms. The report, which is based largely on data provided to Congress by companies such as Facebook and Twitter, was produced for the Senate Intelligence Committee by New Knowledge, a cybersecurity company, along with researchers at Columbia University and Canfield Research. It found the Russian campaign focused on influencing African-Americans and also tried to suppress voting.Full Article: Voter Suppression and Racial Targeting: In Facebook’s and Twitter’s Words - The New York Times.
Facebook, Twitter and Google impeded in the Senate investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a new report said Monday.
The report was compiled by Britain’s University of Oxford and analyzed by the firm New Knowledge. It said the tech companies submitted incomplete data and misled lawmakers about the actions of Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm.
The Computational Propaganda Research Project done by the University of Oxford said the Russian agency used social media to polarize the United States from 2012 to 2018 — including campaigns to encourage African-American voters to boycott elections and Hispanic voters to distrust U.S. institutions. The propaganda, it said, encouraged extreme right-wing voters to be confrontational. The trolls also sent sensationalist, conspiratorial and other forms of junk political news and misinformation to voters across the political spectrum to get spark outrage and division, the report said.
“Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) launched an extended attack on the United States by using computational propaganda to misinform and polarize U.S. voters,” the report states. “In this analysis, we investigate how the IRA exploited the tools and platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube to impact U.S. users.”U.S. tech companies impeded Senate probe of Russian meddling, report says - UPI.com.
The battle to win over millions of first-time and undecided Thai voters is now increasingly being fought online as the military-run government bans campaigning ahead of a general election expected next year. New and established parties and even junta leader Prayut Chan-o-cha are vying for attention on platforms ranging from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to the Line messaging service. The contest is set to intensify as the military government that seized power in 2014 prepares to finally hold an election on Feb 24. While the junta in September eased its ban on political activity, allowing parties to raise money and elect leaders, electoral campaigning and political gatherings of more than five people continued to be prohibited.Full Article: Thai election fight turns to YouTube, Facebook after campaign ban, SE Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times.
Facebook is being hit with fresh criticism from Capitol Hill as lawmakers reacted harshly Thursday to a New York Times investigation that detailed the company’s efforts to wield influence in Washington after becoming aware of Russia-linked activity on its platform during the 2016 presidential campaign. The explosive article laid out how Facebook’s leadership was reluctant to confront the Russian efforts on its platform and was unprepared for the subsequent firestorm and fallout, which involved the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Specifically, the Times reported that the tech giant used a Republican opposition research firm called Definers Public Affairs to accuse liberal financier George Soros of funding some of the groups that were speaking out against Facebook as it faced public scrutiny over its handling of both the Russian disinformation campaigns and the Cambridge Analytica debacle. On Thursday, a group of Senate Democrats — Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Chris Coons (Del.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii) — requested that the Justice Department “expand any investigation into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica to include whether Facebook — or any other entity affiliated with or hired by Facebook — retaliated against critics or public officials seeking to regulate the platform, or hid vital information from the public.”Full Article: Facebook reeling after damning NYT report | TheHill.
Facebook Inc will ban false information about voting requirements and fact-check fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations ahead of next month’s U.S. midterm elections, company executives told Reuters, the latest effort to reduce voter manipulation on its service. The world’s largest online social network, with 1.5 billion daily users, has stopped short of banning all false or misleading posts, something that Facebook has shied away from as it would likely increase its expenses and leave it open to charges of censorship. The latest move addresses a sensitive area for the company, which has come under fire for its lax approach to fake news reports and disinformation campaigns, which many believe affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, won by Donald Trump.Full Article: Exclusive: Facebook to ban misinformation on voting in upcoming U.S. elections | Reuters.
With less than a month before the midterm elections, technology companies are fighting to prove they can adequately shore up their platforms and products against foreign influence. Their success may mean the difference between getting to police their own house and having lawmakers do it for them. Election Day could be a tipping point for Silicon Valley titans, who are increasingly in Washington’s harsh glare following revelations that disinformation campaigns linked to Russia were widely disseminated on their platforms ahead of the 2016 elections. Tech moguls like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey were dragged to Capitol Hill to give mea culpas for their past practices and publicly pledge to do better next time. The companies contend they have learned from their missteps during the 2016 election and are improving their election-integrity efforts as other elections have taken place around the world. They’ve promised to do more to identify and stamp out fake accounts, and they have increased transparency around political ads. Facebook opened a 20-person war room on its Menlo Park campus aimed at quashing disinformation and deleting fake accounts.Full Article: The Daily 202: Technology giants face big test in midterm elections - The Washington Post.
Sandwiched between Building 20 and Building 21 in the heart of Facebook’s campus, an approximately 25-foot-by-35-foot conference room is under construction. Thick cords of blue wiring hang from the ceiling, ready to be attached to window-size computer monitors on 16 desks. On one wall, a half-dozen televisions will be tuned to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other major networks. A small paper sign with orange lettering taped to the glass door describes what’s being built: “War Room.” Although it is not much to look at now, as of next week the space will be Facebook’s headquarters for safeguarding elections. More than 300 people across the company are working on the initiative, but the War Room will house a team of about 20 focused on rooting out disinformation, monitoring false news and deleting fake accounts that may be trying to influence voters before elections in the United States, Brazil and other countries.Full Article: Inside Facebook’s Election ‘War Room’ - The New York Times.
Canada: Elections Canada wants to buy social media ‘listening’ tool to track threats ahead of 2019 election | Globalnews.ca
Twitter, Reddit, Facebook. All three have been accused over the last two years of letting themselves be used by Russian attempts to influence the 2016 American election and as a new procurement posting suggests, they are just a few of the social media sites Elections Canada wants to keep an even closer eye on as it tracks risks and trends ahead of the 2019 Canadian election. To do that, the elections agency plans to buy what it calls a “social media and open source data listening and analytics tool.” In a notice of proposed procurement posted on Tuesday morning, the elections agency writes that it needs the new tool to be able to “listen, in near real time, to key influencers to identify potential issues that may affect the election early on,” as well as to “detect, through timely and accurate notifications, potential incidents and trends affecting the integrity of Canadian electoral events in near real time.”Full Article: Elections Canada wants to buy social media ‘listening’ tool to track threats ahead of 2019 election - National | Globalnews.ca.
National: Facebook pilots new political campaign security tools — just 50 days before Election Day | TechCrunch
Facebook has rolled out a “pilot” program of new security tools for political campaigns — just weeks before millions of Americans go to the polls for the midterm elections. The social networking giant said it’s targeting campaigns that “may be particularly vulnerable to targeting by hackers and foreign adversaries.” Once enrolled, Facebook said it’ll help campaigns adopt stronger security protections, “like two-factor authentication and monitor for potential hacking threats,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, in a Monday blog post.Full Article: Facebook pilots new political campaign security tools — just 50 days before Election Day | TechCrunch.
National: Facebook ‘Better Prepared’ to Fight Election Interference, Mark Zuckerberg Says | The New York Times
Mark Zuckerberg began the year by promising to make Facebook safer from election interference around the world. He has spent most of the rest of the year apologizing for not recognizing the problem earlier. On Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, published a roughly 3,300-word blog post cataloging all the steps the company has taken. “In 2016, we were not prepared for the coordinated information operations we now regularly face,” he wrote, alluding to Russian interference in the American presidential election. “But we have learned a lot since then and have developed sophisticated systems that combine technology and people to prevent election interference on our services.” “Today, Facebook is better prepared for these kinds of attacks,” he added.Full Article: Facebook ‘Better Prepared’ to Fight Election Interference, Mark Zuckerberg Says - The New York Times.
National: From encryption to deepfakes, lawmakers geek out during Facebook and Twitter hearing | The Washington Post
Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg relentlessly practiced before taking hot seats on Capitol Hill, engaging in role play and panels of questioning with colleagues and consultants. But the tech executives weren’t the only ones who came prepared for class on Wednesday. Senators on the Intelligence Committee clearly did their homework on a wide range of technical topics, and they peppered the executives with questions on issues ranging from doctored videos known as “deepfakes” to encryption. The grilling marked a stark departure from hearings earlier this year with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, when senators on the Judiciary and Commerce committees were panned for their technical illiteracy.Full Article: The Cybersecurity 202: From encryption to deepfakes, lawmakers geek out during Facebook and Twitter hearing - The Washington Post.
National: Facebook and Microsoft briefed state officials on election security efforts today | TechCrunch
So much for summer Fridays. Yesterday, BuzzFeed reported that a dozen tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Snapchat, would meet at Twitter headquarters on Friday to discuss election security. For two of them, that wasn’t the only meeting in the books. In what appears to be a separate event on Friday, Facebook and Microsoft also met with the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and two bodies of state election officials, the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) and the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), about their election security efforts.Full Article: Facebook and Microsoft briefed state officials on election security efforts today | TechCrunch.
Former Facebook security chief Alex Stamos has issued a sobering warning about the continuing threat of foreign interference in US elections, saying it’s “too late to protect the 2018 elections.” But he believes the 2020 election can still be saved. Stamos, who blog post published Wednesday on Lawfare, Stamos seizes on two pieces of news he says proves that “America’s adversaries believe that it is still both safe and effective to attack U.S. democracy using American technologies and the freedoms we cherish.”Full Article: for Stanford University earlier this month, is well acquainted with the subject, having played a central role in Facebook’s response to interference by Russian trolls in the 2016 US presidential election that took place on the social media giant. In a Former Facebook security chief warns its too late to protect 2018 elections - CNET.