Facebook dismantles Russian intelligence operation targeting Ukraine

Atta Ur Rehman KhanWeb Editor & Columnist

12th Feb, 2020. 10:02 pm
facebook russia

LONDON: Facebook (FB.O) on Wednesday said it had suspended a network of accounts used by Russian military intelligence to seed false narratives online targeting Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe.

Facebook head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher said, Other accounts originating in Iran, Vietnam and Myanmar were also blocked on Facebook and Instagram for “engaging in foreign or government interference.”

 

Facebook said, “We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these Pages, Groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”

Facebook, which has struggled to stop governments and political groups using its platform to spread false or misleading information, regularly announces it has shut down disinformation campaigns from countries including Russia.

According to the Reuters, The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Moscow has previously denied Western allegations of political meddling, including findings by U.S. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller that it used social media accounts in an attempt to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential vote.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said the latest Russian operation used more than 100 accounts on Facebook and its Instagram photo-sharing platform to create fake personas, often posing as journalists in the targeted countries.

These accounts the contacted local media and politicians to plant false stories about politically divisive issues, such as corruption allegations, ethnic tensions in the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea and the downing of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine in 2014.

“We’ve known for a long time that these people look for authentic voices to amplify their narratives,” Gleicher told Reuters. “It is more of a classic intelligence operation, trying to manipulate key individuals to achieve a high impact.”

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