Facebook says it will act against ‘information operations’ using false accounts | Reuters

By Joseph Menn
| SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc acknowledged on Thursday that it has become a battleground for governments seeking to manipulate public opinion in other countries and outlined new measures it is taking to combat what it calls “information operations” that go well beyond the phenomenon known as fake news.

In a report and summary of response plans on its website on Thursday, Facebook describes well-funded and subtle efforts by nations and other organizations to spread misleading information and falsehoods for geopolitical goals.

These initiatives go much further than posting fake news stories to include amplification – essentially widening the circulation of posts through a variety of means – carried out by government employees or paid professionals, often using fake accounts.

Reuters reviewed an advance copy of the 13-page report, which was written by two veteran security analysts who joined Facebook from cyber security firms FireEye Inc and Dell SecureWorks, along with Facebook’s chief security officer.

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Facebook said its security team would now fight information operations, which it regards as a more complex problem than traditional hackers and scammers, by suspending or deleting false accounts after identifying them with a combination of machine learning and intelligence agency-level analysis.

The new efforts build on the company’s recently expanded campaigns to identify fake news and crack down on automated profile pages that post commercial or political spam. Facebook suspended 30,000 accounts in France ahead of last Sunday’s first-round presidential election.

In addressing the U.S. presidential election as a “case study,” the Facebook team said fake Facebook personas had spread stolen emails and other documents as part of a coordinated effort, which U.S. intelligence agencies have attributed to Russia. Other false personas pushed stories that expanded on…

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