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Home / US / The Russians are already trying to interfere in the 2020 elections, as Facebook data show

The Russians are already trying to interfere in the 2020 elections, as Facebook data show



Profiles originating in Russia have since the beginning of this year built up a network of accounts on Instagram, which should look like groups in swing states, the company said. Instagram belongs to Facebook ( FB ) .
Although the accounts as Americans spilled from all sides of the political spectrum, many agreed that they disagreed with the candidacy of former Vice President Joe Biden, according to Graphika, a social media investigator, Facebook with the analysis of accounts commissioned. The Russian trolls who interfered in the elections via social media in 2016 pursued a similar tactic by persecuting Hillary Clinton from the right, and also tried to spread the view on the left that Clinton was not liberal enough and that liberals and African Americans did not do much should. I did not bother to vote for her.

The Facebook accounts released Monday, of which 50 were on Instagram and one on Facebook, appeared to favor a wide range of topics throughout American life.

Accounts with usernames like @ black.queen.chloe and @ michigan_black_community_ seemed to be led by black activists. There were also pro and anti-Trump accounts and accounts as feminists, LGBTQ advocates and environmentalists. Other account names according to Graphika were @ stop.trump2020, @ bernie.2020__, @ iowa.patriot and @feminist_agenda_.

Facebook said the accounts together had more than 250,000 followers, of which more than half were resident in the US. Facebook did not disclose how many of these followers were genuine and how many were fake or bot accounts that were meant to be main accounts look legitimate. Facebook says it has removed the accounts.

"It looked like it was systematically attacking Biden from both sides," said Graphika Investigative Director Ben Nimmo, who analyzed the accounts, to CNN Business.

Nimmo also observed attacks on other candidates, including Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Elizabeth Warren, but said these attacks appeared to be more the result of "character formation" in which the accounts exchanged content to strengthen their respective personalities For example, liberal-looking reports attacked Trump, while conservative-looking reports released negative content about MP Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

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"Among the reports that focused on black activism, there was strong support for Bernie Sanders and one moderate amount of content against Kamala Harris, "said Graphika in his analysis. "Educational reform and debt relief for students were two of the most commonly cited reasons for supporting Sanders, while Harris' record as a California prosecutor was cited as a reason to decline her candidacy." Nimmo said the accounts had shipped close to 75,000 items, of which the majority did not deal directly with the 2020 elections, but with more general political and social issues in the US. "

Facebook said the backers of the operation had taken steps to improve their identity and location The company did not publicly disclose how it had determined that the accounts were linked to the Internet Research Agency, but said that details were shared with law enforcement agencies.

The campaign mainly featured existing memes and posts recycled by real American news organizations and political groups. [19659005] "These were not Russians targeting Americans with Russian content, but Russians targeting Americans with American content," Nimmo said.

The decision to recycle existing content rather than creating new material could have been part of the campaign's strategy to hide Russian links, Nimmo said. However, errors in some of the accounts' contributions indicated that the accounts were not maintained by native English speakers.

"What does the future look like for your children?" The headline read on a post apparently criticizing Americans who do not lovingly remember the Confederacy. Another account posted "What a bullsh **".

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Nathaniel Gleicher, head of the Facebook team investigating operations with foreign influence, said the company had The operation at an early stage and at an early stage observed that the Russian group had focused on building the audience. Gleicher said the accounts "attempted to look like ordinary citizens" in ways that would later give their offices credibility.

Facebook has taken extensive steps since the 2016 elections to tackle foreign disinformation on its platforms, including hiring former intelligence agents to eradicate campaigns such as Russia's. Same said that the steps that Facebook has taken have apparently made it difficult for Russian accounts to "build the following among authentic communities."

"People in Russia are still trying," Nimmo told CNN Business on Monday. But, he said, they find it a lot harder because the social media companies "chase them".

"In 2016 you could have set up an account posing as a Republican in Tennessee, and registering it on a Russian number," he noted.

Facebook also announced Monday that it has removed several networks of Iranian accounts, some of which target Americans. One of the reports referred the audience to content about Black Lives Matter – a tactic that was very popular with Russian trolls in 2016. The network had a relatively small fan base of more than 7,000 accounts.

While Russia has placed the largest emphasis on foreign online interference in the US over the past 12 months, Facebook has discovered several Iranian campaigns against the United States.


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