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Facebook warns of Russian infiltration and diversion operations

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Accounts with fake identities linked to Russian intelligence that Facebook suspended (European News Agency)

Facebook (Facebook) said a thousand followers. Thursday that it has dismantled three networks of fake accounts that could be used by Russian intelligence services to leak hacked documents, as it seeks to disrupt the upcoming US elections, according to Reuters.

The company said the accounts, which is suspended for using false identities and other types of “uncoordinated behavior,” were related to Russian intelligence and people associated with a St. Petersburg-based organization that US officials accused of working to influence the 2016 presidential election.

The Russian Foreign Ministry did not respond to a request for comment after regular business hours in Moscow. Officials have repeatedly denied allegations of election interference, saying their country does not interfere in the internal politics of other countries.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said there was no direct evidence that the compromised documents were about to be published. But by suspending the accounts, Facebook was making sure to prevent them from being used in any subsequent process.

“Our team is watching the threats and trends that we need to be prepared for and which we are well aware of,” he told Reuters. “This was a penetration and leakage process, especially for the next six or eight weeks.”

“We want to make sure that the accounts are deactivated to prevent their ability to make them central to facilitate penetration and leakage operations around the US elections,” he added.

The company said the networks were small with only a few accounts on its website and photo-sharing service Instagram, some of which were pictured as independent media outlets and research centers. The total number of followers of the accounts reached about 97 thousand followers.

Facebook accounts with fake identities linked to Russian intelligence suspended (European News Agency)

Twitter said it worked with Facebook to identify and remove 350 accounts run by state-linked organizations in Russia.

Both companies said one of the networks had been identified after a hint from the FBI, which warned last Tuesday that foreign actors and internet “criminals” were likely to spread misinformation about the results of the November 3 election.

This comes after a warning from Microsoft earlier this month that hackers linked to Russia, China, and Iran were trying to spy on people associated with US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

Graham Brooke, director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Laboratory, worked with Facebook to analyze the suspended accounts. He said the activity shows that Russia is continuing its efforts to exacerbate political tensions in the United States and elsewhere.

He also said, “This does not rule out the fact that the volume and scope of domestic disinformation are much greater than what any foreign adversary can do. But Russia’s efforts remain a severe weakness for national security.”


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