July 31, 2018 1:03 pm
Updated: August 1, 2018 12:04 pm

Facebook uncovers attempts to disrupt U.S. elections

WATCH: Facebook uncovers attempts to disrupt U.S. elections, possibly linked to Russia.

A A

Facebook says it has uncovered “sophisticated” efforts, possibly linked to Russia, to influence U.S. politics on its platforms.

Story continues below

The company says it removed 32 accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in “coordinated” behaviour and appeared to be fake.

READ MORE: Facebook stock plunges, Zuckerberg’s net worth down nearly US$19 billion

Facebook stopped short of saying the effort was aimed at influencing the U.S. midterm elections in November, although the timing of the suspicious activity would be consistent with such an attempt.

According to a Facebook official, the company held briefings in the House and Senate this week. The official declined to be named because the briefings were private. Facebook disclosed its findings after The New York Times reported on them earlier Tuesday.

WATCH: Graham tells reporters he will be introducing ‘sanctions bill from hell’ against Russia

The company said it doesn’t know who is behind the efforts, but said there may be connections to Russia. Facebook said it has found some connections between the accounts it removed and the accounts connected to Russia’s Internet Research Agency that it removed before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

READ MORE: Russia troll farm more strange than Mueller’s indictment says, according to insiders

The earliest page was created in March 2017. Facebook says more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the fake pages. The most followed Facebook Pages had names such as “Aztlan Warriors,” ″Black Elevation,” ″Mindful Being,” and “Resisters.”

WATCH BELOW: Trump backpedals, now says Russia did meddle in election

Facebook says the pages ran about 150 ads for $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in U.S. and Canadian dollars. The first ad was created in April 2017; the last was created in June 2018.

READ MORE: Protecting 2019 Canadian election from interference will require balance of free speech: Brison

The company added that the perpetrators have been “more careful to cover their tracks” than in 2016, in part because of steps Facebook has taken to prevent abuse over the past year. For example, they used virtual private networks and internet phone services, and paid third parties to run ads on their behalf.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

Report an error

Comments

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.