About three days ago (July 31, 2018), Facebook has deleted 32 fake accounts and pages that were deemed disruptive to the midterm elections. These accounts and pages were continuously promoting and engaging in divisive social issues.
The company and its team of experts did not state that these accounts and pages were made by Russians. However, some of Facebook’s officials informed the press there were similarities in terms of techniques and tools used by the Internet Research Agency (Kremlin-linked group that was indicted of the 2016 presidential election interference).
Elaborating Divisive Social Issues
A lot of people are still quite confused when Facebook states “Divisive Social Issues.” To be more specific, the company has exposed some of the fake accounts and pages activities. One of which is the “Unite the Right” supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. where they continuously commented and posted content with that regards to re-spark heat among the people. These accounts also extensively used the #AbolishICE, a campaign on social media that is promoting to end the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
The People Behind the Fake Accounts
Nathaniel Gleicher, the cybersecurity policy head of Facebook, said “At this point in our investigation, we do not have enough technical evidence to state definitively who is behind it. But we can say that these accounts engaged in some similar activity and have connected with known I.R.A accounts.”
The problem with this campaign is that it wasn’t like the Russian trolls in 2016 where it was easy to track as they used rubles and used Russian internet protocol addresses. The campaign was better organized and used incredibly advanced security techniques to avoid Facebook from detecting it. They also used third parties to buy ads in their behalf, making it even harder to trace.
For now, as investigations are still ongoing, there is no definitive answer to who are the creators of the fake accounts or their core motive. It is clear though that they have promoted content that has spurred chaos and divide among Facebook users. Although the accounts and pages have now been deleted, there is no way to revert the damage that has been done.