Facebook discovers fake Russian and Iranian accounts created to spread inflammatory disinformation

Zuckerberg speaks at Georgetown University in Washington. With just over a year left until

Zuckerberg speaks at Georgetown University in Washington. With just over a year left until

Facebook introduced new measures to combat misinformation and voter suppression on Monday ahead of the USA presidential election, on the same day it unveiled the removal of a network of Russian accounts concentrating on US voters on Instagram.

Facebook introduced "several new measures" to combat foreign interference, increase transparency and reduce misinformation in the 2020 election. The Russian network "showed some links" to Russia's Internet Research Agency (IRA), Facebook said, an organization Washington has said was used by Moscow to meddle in the 2016 US election.

Even as it takes steps to protect the next election, Facebook continues to grapple with bad actors from the last United States presidential election. About 7,700 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and around 145 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.

"We know that we have a big responsibility to secure our platform and stay ahead of some of these new threats to election security", Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said during a conference call Monday.

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Ben Nimmo, a researcher with social media analysis company Graphika who Facebook commissioned, said the flagged accounts shared material that could appeal to Republican and Democratic voters alike. "The operators went to great lengths to hide their origins", said the Graphika report, adding that most of the posts were memes without text.

The company said it had proactively identified four networks of fake accounts it said it had taken down on Monday.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has accused Russian Federation, among other countries, of trying to interfere in the 2020 USA presidential election through the social network. About 4,200 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and roughly 60,000 people followed one or more of the Instagram accounts, according to Facebook. "We're also supporting a series of training events focused on critical thinking among first-time voters", Facebook said on Tuesday. In recent days, Mr. Zuckerberg has met with US lawmakers, sat for interviews with Fox News and MSNBC and issued a lengthy defence of free speech in a talk at Georgetown University. "In many countries, including in the U.S., if we have signals that a piece of content is false, we temporarily reduce its distribution pending review by a third-party fact-checker".

The company will also more prominently label posts on Facebook and on its Instagram app that have been deemed partly or wholly false by outside fact-checking organisations.

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"There are more than a billion people around the world who don't have access to a bank account, but could through mobile phones if the right system existed", Zuckerberg intends to say. In a recent speech, Mark Zuckerberg said, "we've found a different strategy works best: focusing on the authenticity of the speaker rather than the content itself".

Hundreds of fake Facebook accounts, probably run from Russian Federation, spent about $100,000 on ads aimed at stirring up divisive issues, Facebook admitted.

Reducing foreign interference in the 2020 United States elections: Facebook said that it removed four foreign interference operations including one which targeted the 2020 USA presidential elections. It will also be cracking down on any attempts to suppress voting through ads, including banning ads that "suggest voting is useless or advise people not to vote", or that misrepresent polling dates or locations.

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