Facebook announced on Tuesday that it closed more than 30 pages and false accounts involved in a "coordinated" attempt at political manipulation of public opinion prior to the November legislative elections in the United States.
The company indicated that it has not yet It determined who is behind these accounts and that until now they could not link them with Russia, a country that the US authorities accuse of having intervened in the presidential elections of 2016, in which Donald Trump won.
Intelligence reports concluded that Moscow sought to influence the vote in favor of Trump through online ads that escalated tensions and division.
A little more than three months before the election, the founder and president of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, reported the new discovery .
"One of our main priorities in 2018 is to prevent the misuse of Facebook," the executive wrote in his blog. ro. " "We create services to bring people together and we want to make sure that we are doing everything to prevent anyone from using the tool to separate us."
Trump, now president, has repeatedly downplayed the Kremlin's intervention in American democracy, generating even more global storm to meet with Vladimir Putin and question the veracity of the investigation.
Although the White House insisted that the president "will not tolerate foreign interference in the electoral system, any nation or any malicious actor," he said to journalists the deputy press secretary, Hogan Gidley.
"Careful to cover their tracks"
The company said in a statement that "part of those activities is consistent with what I had seen from the Internet Research Agency (IRA) ", the Russian organization that created and managed many fake Facebook accounts during the elect process oral past.
"We have evidence of some connections between these accounts and the IRA accounts that were eliminated last year (…), but there are also differences," Facebook security chief Alex Stamps said. a telephone conference with journalists.
"We do not believe that the evidence is strong enough at this time to publicly attribute (the new accounts) to the IRA (…). We can not say if it is the IRA with better capabilities or a different organization. "
Facebook indicated in any case that the authors were" more careful to cover their tracks. "
Special prosecutor Robert Mueller investigates whether the campaign Trump conspired with Russia to boost the triumph of the Republican tycoon.
Mueller charged the IRA and 12 hackers linked to that organization.
In total, there were 32 profiles of Facebook and Instagram (owned by the group) eliminated due to an "inauthentic coordinated behavior."
The oldest was created in March of 2017 and the most recent in May of 2018. In total, they had published about 10,000 messages.
Those pages had 290,000 followers and spent $ 11,000. to promote about 150 content ("ads"), making them more visible.
One of these accounts that operated in a covert manner was after the call for a countermarke to an event of the ultra-right organization "Unite the Right" on August 10 in the capital Washington DC.
The group said it reported these discoveries to law enforcement, Congress and other technology companies, as well as plans to contact subscribers of the social network who expressed interest in attending that protest.
Trump "is not doing enough"
Democratic Senator Mark Warner, member of the Intelligence Commission of the upper house, said that this "finding is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms such as Facebook to sow the division and disseminate misinformation."
"I'm glad Facebook is taking some steps to identify and address this operation "
The head of that committee, the Republican Richard Burr, congratulated Facebook for taking" this much needed step forward to limit the use from this platform by foreign campaigns, "which seek to" sow discord, distrust and division. "
" Russians want a weak United States. "
US lawmakers have introduced several bills aimed at increasing electoral security.
The head of the Democratic minority in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, also applauded the action of Facebook, but insisted that the Trump government "is not doing enough" to protect the elections.
Among the pages eliminated with more followers are "Resisters" and "Aztlan Warriors"
The first, in Spanish "Resistentes", is the one that organized the event against "Unite the Right".
Fake pages boosted real events around the world in the last year, of which all occurred except for two, according to the platform.
The news comes a few days after Facebook suffered a frightful fall in the stock market, after losing the revenue forecasts for the second quarter and offering projections of smooth growth.
The technology company indicated that this slowdown is part of what it calls its new privacy and security strategy, which it said helped this new discovery.