Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, Facebook received heavy criticism for allowing fake news to spread unchecked across its platform. And much of this spam was propagated by Russian intelligence and other foreign bodies seeking to pollute our news feeds with disinformation. Now, according to a months-long investigation by CNN, these trolls are back — though this time they’re “better disguised and more targeted.”
According to the report, these bad actors have begun using proxy trolls in Africa to confuse the actual source of the disinformation. They’ve focused almost exclusively on racial tensions within the United States, hoping to stoke unrest and confusion in the lead-up to the election this fall.
“Most of these accounts were real people, which is the best way to hide your disinformation. You just connect it to an actual human,” security researcher Darren Linvill told The Washington Post. “You have to go three steps to figure out these real people were being paid by Russia.”
Thankfully, Facebook responded quickly to the report, taking down 85 Instagram accounts, 49 Facebook accounts and 69 pages. Disturbingly, the company noted that 265,000 people followed one of the Instagram accounts.
With a platform as large as Facebook, it’s impossible to ever truly eliminate this sort of widespread spam. However, at least the company is doing more to tackle the problem this time around.
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