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Tag: facebook

Facebook Reveals New Coordinated Disinformation Campaign Ahead of Midterm Elections

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Facebook revealed Tuesday that it uncovered a new coordinated disinformation campaign potentially targeting the midterm elections.

The company said the campaign involved dozens of fake accounts on its social media platform. In a statement posted on Facebook, the company said it removed 32 pages and accounts from its platform and Instagram “because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior.” 

Facebook said the accounts were targeting protests planned in Washington D.C. next week.

The company is uncertain of the source of the fake accounts and is investigating.

The discovery comes at a time when federal agencies in the U.S. said Russia continues to spread disinformation to divide Americans.

Facebook found:

  • In total, more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these Pages, the earliest of which was created in March 2017. The latest was created in May 2018.
  • The most followed Facebook Pages were “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” “Mindful Being,” and “Resisters.” The remaining Pages had between zero and 10 followers, and the Instagram accounts had zero followers.
  • There were more than 9,500 organic posts created by these accounts on Facebook, and one piece of content on Instagram.
  • They ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in US and Canadian dollars. The first ad was created in April 2017, and the last was created in June 2018.
  • The Pages created about 30 events since May 2017. About half had fewer than 100 accounts interested in attending. The largest had approximately 4,700 accounts interested in attending, and 1,400 users said that they would attend.

Russian Trolls Make Resurgence on Social Media to Interfere with Special Counsel Probe

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Russian-linked social media accounts that spread immeasurable propaganda during the 2016 presidential election are making a comeback in an escalating campaign to influence the investigations of possible ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.

Two top Democrats sent a letter to Twitter and Facebook earlier this month, warning that Russian-linked accounts are cropping up in alarming numbers to spread information intended to undermine investigations by congressional committees and  special counsel Robert Mueller.

“It is critically important that the Special Counsel’s investigation be allowed to proceed without interference from inside or outside the United States,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, both of California, in the letter, according to CNBC.

Each serves on a committee investigation Russian interference during the election.

Thousands of automated accounts, called bots, have cropped up lately in response to the widening investigations that have reached the White House.

Many of them have joined a viral hashtag campaign – #ReleaseTheMemo – to press for the public disclosure of a Republican memorandum that claims the FBI and Justice Department are tainted by political biases. On Monday, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee voted to publicly release the secret, much-disputed memo that alleges the agencies abused their authority by extending surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser and suspected Russian agent Carter Page.

The vote, along party lines, ignored Justice Department warnings that the release would be “extraordinarily reckless” because the memo draws from classified information. 

The lawmakers expressed concern that the reemergence of Russian bots “are intended to influence congressional action and undermine Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation,” of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

Russian-linked trolls also are spreading content from Fox News host Sean Hannity, who has relentlessly blasted the intelligence agencies for alleged anti-Trump biases, Mother Jones reported, basing the information on data compiled by the nonpartisan Alliance for Security Democracy. 

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last year that Russia launched an aggressive, sophisticated smear campaign designed to disseminate disinformation on social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Google. The propaganda targeted controversial subjects such as police brutality, Black Lives Matter, immigration and Muslims.

Wired reported earlier this month that Mueller’s team interviewed at least one member of Facebook’s team connected Trump’s campaign as part of the investigation into Russian interference.

During a series of congressional hearings last year, Twitter, Facebook and Google were criticized by lawmakers for failing to take steps to eliminate the Russian propaganda campaign.

Twitter plans to notify nearly 700,000 users who interacted with suspected Russian propagandists.

Other Stories of Interest

Suburban Mom Accused of Threatening FBI Mole on Facebook

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A suburban Chicago mother of seven faces federal cyberstalking charges for allegedly urging Facebook followers to kill a gang member-turned-FBI mole for helping put behind bars an associate of hers accused of trying to sell semiautomatic rifles stolen from a freight train.

Iesha Stenciel, 38, also faces a gun charge after she was found carrying a bag containing an AR 15-type assault rifles stolen from a Chicago train in September 2016, the Associated Press reports

Brian Stafford was arrested in October 2016 for allegedly telling the informant that he was in possession of the stolen rifles. Following the arrest, Stenciel is accused of posting the Facebook threats.

“Snitches get stitches and found in ditches,” one posting allegedly said, followed by 11 handgun emojis.

Stenciel later claimed the postings were fantasies, not legitimate threats.

Facebook is “a cyber fantasy community where you can live out any fantasy with no real means or intent of carrying anything out,” she wrote to a federal judge in a letter in July.

The AP wrote:

Filings aren’t clear about whether Stafford or Stanciel, both of whom have previous criminal records, played a direct role in the 2016 theft. The guns had been loaded in Atlantic City, New Jersey, two days before the train stopped in Chicago. The thieves also made off with several TVs.

The filings describe Stanciel and Stafford as “associates” but don’t offer details. Stanciel, of Aurora, and Stafford, from the Chicago suburb of Bellwood, have both pleaded not guilty. Stafford faces gun possession charges.

The informant, working with the FBI, agreed to pay Stafford $4,000 for the three rifles, court filings said. The informant wore audio and video devices during the exchange of the money and guns at Stafford’s home on Oct. 23 last year, and Stafford was arrested later that day.

Facebook Warned U.S. Government of Suspected Russian Hackers Before Election

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Read more »

Facebook Provides Robert Mueller with Facebook Ad Data Involving Russia

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Information about Facebook’s discovery that an operation likely based in Russia spent $100,000 on ads on the social media site was turned over to Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in charge of investigating alleged Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election.

Facebook said the operation promoted thousands of ads in the U.S. on divisive social and political messages, Reuters reports.

The postings ranged from polarizing positions on immigration, gay rights and race.

Reuters wrote:

U.S. election law bars foreign nationals and foreign entities from spending money to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a candidate. Non-U.S. citizens may generally advertise on issues. Other ads, such as those that mention a candidate but do not call for the candidate’s election or defeat, fall into what lawyers have called a legal gray area.

Facebook announced the findings in a blog post by its chief security officer, Alex Stamos, and said that it was cooperating with federal inquiries into influence operations during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Facebook briefed members of both the Senate and House of Representatives intelligence committees on Wednesday about the suspected Russia advertising, according to a congressional source familiar with the matter. Both committees are conducting probes into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, including potential collusion between the campaign of President Donald Trump and Moscow.

USA Today Urges FBI to Investigate Millions of Fake Facebook Accounts

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The USA Today has been swamped with so many fake users on Facebook that the newspaper is asking the FBI to investigate.

The newspaper, owned by Gannett Co., estimated that half of its Facebook follower are automated. Even after the social media giant removed more than a third of USA Today’s 15.2 million followers, millions more are fake as an average of 1,000 fake users “like” the page, the newspaper revealed

What remains unclear is why spam operators are targeting the USA Today.

“The continued presence of phony accounts hasn’t checked the social network’s user growth, but they can cause confusion and havoc for individual users and companies,” the USA Today wrote. “Fake profiles that masquerade as real people have also caused tragedy, such as the torture and killing of a university student in Pakistan after someone set up a fake Facebook account in his name that allegedly contained blasphemous content.”

“We don’t know why the scope of impact on USA Today’s Facebook Page appears greater than any other publisher,” said Shabnam Shaik, technical program manager on Facebook’s protect and care team.

In flings with the Securities and Exchange commission, Facebook estimated about 1% of its active users are “misclassified” accounts, which includes both fake accounts and those that violated its terms of service, such as pet accounts.

Parker: The Legal Duty to Report Crimes in the Age of Social Media

Ross Parker was chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit for 8 years and worked as an AUSA for 28 in that office.

Ross Parker

Ross Parker

By Ross Parker
ticklethewire.com

Over the weekend NBC News and other media reported a story of the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl in Chicago by a group of juvenile boys. The painful media “angle” of the report was that the offenders had broadcast the brutal assault to 40 Facebook viewers, none of whom had reported the crime to police.

The Chicago Police Chief stated that he was uncertain whether any of the viewers would be charged criminally. He said that he was “disgusted” by their inaction and added, “Where are we going in society?”

The incident follows another one in Chicago in which 4 people taunted and beat a mentally disabled man and broadcast the crime, also by Facebook.

The most recent Chicago case occurred 53 years, almost to the day, after the notorious rape and murder of Catherine “Kitty” Genovese in March 1964, while observers saw and heard the brutal stabbing and her cries for help. A sensationalized New York Times article, two weeks after the murder, reported that 38 people had watched the murder and did nothing about it.

The article shocked readers across the country and came to represent a widespread “truth” about apathy in the big cities, the breakdown of the values of the 1950s, and the social anxieties of the years which followed.

Many of us became familiar with the Genovese case in our Psych 101 and Sociology textbooks in college, under the title “Bystander Effect” or “Bystander Syndrome,” as the supposed tendency of large groups of people who witness crimes to refuse either to come to the aid of the victim or to call the police. Dozens of movies, TV shows, books, and songs decried the “Bad Samaritan” tendency of people who predominated in modern life.

The problem with the story and its widespread consequences was that most of the reported “facts” were not true. Fifty years later studies showed that the events had been grossly exaggerated and inaccurate in many respects, especially the overstated number of  witnesses (actually probably 5 or 6, some of whom did call the police and try to help the victim). Only one man indicated that he had seen and heard  the assault and “did not want to get involved.”

Read more »

Secret Service Agent Who Said She Won’t Take Bullet for Trump Removed from Post

badge_of_the_united_states_secret_serviceBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Kathy O’Grady, the Secret Service special agent who said she would rather go to jail than take a bullet for President Trump, has been removed from her position.

O’Grady was the special agent in charge of the Secret Service’s Denver district. Now there’s a concern she will be transferred to another federal agency, Townhall.com reports. 

O’Grady has been on paid administrative leave since making the comments about Trump on Facebook in January.

Secret Service is looking for someone to replace O’Grady.

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