Facebook takes down fake accounts over Russian troll farm concerns

Facebook says it removed more than 100 accounts this week from the main service as well as its subsidiary In...

Posted: Nov 7, 2018 6:09 PM
Updated: Nov 7, 2018 6:09 PM

Facebook says it removed more than 100 accounts this week from the main service as well as its subsidiary Instagram over concerns they may be connected to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) -- the same troll operation targeted by special counsel Robert Mueller in his sprawling Russia investigation.

The social media giant acknowledged Tuesday that it removed the pages following a tip from the FBI.

2016 Presidential election

Companies

Continents and regions

Disinformation

Eastern Europe

Elections (by type)

Elections and campaigns

Europe

Facebook

Government and public administration

Instagram

Internet and WWW

Internet Research Agency

Investigations

Misc organizations

Political candidates

Political Figures - US

Politics

Robert Mueller

Russia

Russia meddling investigation

Social media

Societal issues

Society

Technology

US Federal elections

US Presidential elections

"We blocked over 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts due to concerns that they were linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) and engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior, which is banned from our services," says Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cyber security policy, on Tuesday.

The company did not disclose details of the pages it removed.

Earlier on Tuesday, a website claiming to be run by the IRA took responsibility for a network of fake social media accounts, many targeting American voters -- an operation similar to what the group orchestrated in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.

A message on the website read: "Citizens of the United States of America! Your intelligence agencies are powerless. Despite all their efforts, we have thousands of accounts registered on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit spreading political propaganda."

The claims were published on Tuesday night as votes in the midterm elections were being counted. CNN has not independently confirmed who controls the pages.

If the pages were run by the IRA, it would represent its most brazen effort since the 2016 presidential election, and a thumb in the eye of American authorities that have tried to undo the power of Russian online disinformation since the last major election.

The group is under indictment by Mueller, whose investigation of the 2016 election has touched the Trump campaign as well as Russians.

Gleicher added: "This evening a website claiming to be associated with the IRA published a list of Instagram accounts they claim to have created. We had already blocked most of these accounts yesterday, and have now blocked the rest. This is a timely reminder that these bad actors won't give up — and why it's so important we work with the US government and other technology companies to stay ahead."

The FBI declined comment.

The accounts CNN reviewed were posted by the group included some pages that were designed to look like they were run by Trump supporters, while other pages targeted African Americans.

Senator Mark Warner, the leading Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, was briefed on the accounts by Facebook, according to his spokesperson. Warner said in a statement provided to CNN on Wednesday, "This shows that Russian influence agents will continue to target the American people and our democratic process. It happened in 2016. We've seen activity in 2018, and I'm confident they will not stop as 2020 remains around the corner."

A DHS official Tuesday said there were "no reported cybersecurity events that would affect the ability to cast and count votes."

On Monday, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Christopher Wray released a joint statement that while there was no indication that America's voting infrastructure -- voting machines, for example -- had been compromised, foreign operatives were seeking to influence American voters.

"Americans should be aware that foreign actors -- and Russia in particular -- continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord," the statement read. "They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics."

Terre Haute
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 63°
Robinson
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 59°
Indianapolis
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 61°
Rockville
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 64°
Casey
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 63°
Marshall
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 63°
Mostly clear, breezy, and warmer evening.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Historical Marker Dedication in Wabash Valley

Image

Historical Marker Dedication

Image

Elizabeth Smart Story

Image

Sunday Evening: Mostly clear, breezy. Low: 61

Image

Cooper Neese Inaugural Basketball Camp

Image

Sunday: Sunny and warm, becoming breezy. High 80°

Image

Wabishiki Day

Image

The Great Relay

Image

Fairbanks Community Center

Image

Car Seat Safety

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1612129

Reported Deaths: 27216
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook61543610987
DuPage1042681360
Will876561092
Lake773641061
Kane66108852
Winnebago39170545
Madison38345578
St. Clair35140571
McHenry33177317
Peoria26076363
Champaign25967184
Sangamon24718273
McLean22003208
Tazewell19833326
Rock Island17919348
Kankakee16856235
Kendall15537107
Macon14565244
LaSalle14539278
Vermilion13343190
Adams12733148
DeKalb11729129
Williamson11528160
Whiteside7944176
Jackson774389
Boone762782
Coles7404113
Ogle718087
Grundy704582
Franklin693999
Clinton683798
Knox6715166
Marion6581138
Macoupin6525100
Henry625674
Effingham612882
Jefferson6116132
Livingston574196
Woodford556191
Stephenson549789
Randolph532197
Monroe510199
Christian496380
Fulton491570
Morgan488996
Logan478474
Montgomery470476
Lee460658
Bureau429188
Perry416671
Saline414064
Fayette403459
Iroquois396973
McDonough356656
Jersey324253
Shelby317343
Crawford307930
Douglas307636
Lawrence303431
Union297347
Wayne276057
White267730
Richland264455
Hancock258834
Pike258056
Clark253538
Cass252228
Bond244824
Clay242247
Edgar237545
Ford235956
Warren227161
Carroll226537
Johnson214925
Moultrie212931
Jo Daviess207226
Washington206627
Wabash202616
Greene200939
Mason200351
Massac200144
De Witt196830
Piatt192114
Mercer191234
Cumberland179825
Menard160812
Jasper153418
Marshall135621
Hamilton129821
Brown10228
Pulaski99211
Schuyler9748
Edwards96815
Stark77227
Gallatin7557
Scott6975
Alexander68111
Henderson66114
Calhoun6452
Hardin56414
Putnam5464
Pope4945
Unassigned1812432
Out of IL60

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482