The social network has announced that it has foiled a new Russian attempt to manipulate public opinion, targeting in particular Democratic candidates like Joe Biden.
Facebook has tightened its security measures for the 2020 US elections. "I am confident that we are much better prepared. But I also know that more and more countries have the ability to carry out increasingly sophisticated attacks, and that they keep trying. "Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg told a press conference on Monday (October 21st). He then compared the current situation to an arms race: "We become better. Them too. "
Among the new measures to strengthen the protection of its networks, the US giant plans to identify among its users messages from media controlled financially and editorial by a state. "These pages will be subject to a higher level of transparency because they combine the influence on the opinion that a media organization can have with the strategic support of a state"explains Facebook in his statement.
To stop the propagation of false information, windows "Pop-up" will appear when Instagram users attempt to share content that has been denied by journalists in their "Fact-checking" (verification of information by third parties).
Facebook has also decided to better protect the accounts of political candidates against the risk of piracy or takeover. And announcements to discourage voters from going to vote will be systematically removed. Digital malice is one of the major risks that could affect the results of the 2020 polls.
A new Russian operation blocked by the social network
The social network took advantage of this presentation to announce having blocked four campaigns of influence led by groups posing as users of platforms (Facebook and Instagram) and were supported by Iran and Russia.
One of the Russian groups shared publications via fake accounts, supposed to represent different political currents and addressing topics like "American elections, environmental issues, racial tensions, LGBT issues, conservatism and liberalism …", listed Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity at Facebook.
"Our long-term goal is not only to block these operations of manipulation, (…) but to make the platform more resistant"Nathaniel Gleicher added. "Look at the Russian operation: they were still at the beginning, they were trying to build an audience and they had taken many precautions to hide their identity (…), but we were able to identify them and put an end to their actions from the beginning. "
Groups with "a misleading attitude"
The firm Graphika, specialized in the analysis of social networks, has for its part highlighted Russian accounts that directly attacked some US presidential candidates. "Many accounts sang the praises of Bernie Sanders (candidate for the Democratic primary) or Donald Trump ", states Graphika's report. "Accounts on both sides of the political spectrum were attacking Joe Biden. Others attacked Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren. Nearly half of the accounts claimed to be based in the "pivotal states", especially Florida., specify the analysts of the firm.
The report also reveals that these accounts were reusing messages from a Russian organization linked to the Kremlin, Internet Research Agency », which had targeted US voters during the 2016 presidential campaign.
The cybersecurity team of the platform locates malicious groups based on their behavior "Coordinated" and "Inauthentic". "We ended these campaigns because of their misleading attitude, not because of the content they shared"said Gleicher.
Facebook was heavily criticized for failing to block manipulation campaigns during major elections in 2016, including the US presidential election.