So if you didn’t realise, the US had an election last year, with some pretty outrageous results.
And the results of that US election was partially blamed on Facebook and the Russians….but mainly the Russians.
However, the social media company also came under scrutiny forcing Alex Stamos (Chief Security Officer) to release a white paper which outlined Facebook’s understanding of organized attempts to misuse the Facebook platform.
This led to Facebook’s resolve to tackle #fakenews by creating fact checks, reporting systems, de-incentivizing fraudulent stories and other initiatives.
But one question that has emerged is whether there’s a connection between the Russian efforts and ads purchased on Facebook.
Well according to Alex Stamos
In reviewing the ads buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 — associated with roughly 3,000 ads — that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies.
Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.
Upon discovering this Facebook shut the pages and accounts down that were still active, with most of the pages not specifically referencing the US presidential campaign, but were instead focused on amplifying divisive social and political messages such as race, gun, LGBT.
In other words, the accounts were aimed at dividing the US nation during the voting period.
And the ad campaigns?
Well 25% of the ads from these accounts were geo located (meaning they were targeting specific areas within the US), but also these groups started early.
In fact, more of the ads ran in 2015 (around the time of #blacklivesmatter)
Moral of the story….chances are you were probably manipulated in order to cause division.
Divide and conquer my friend.
And we all fell for it, left, right and media.
Needless to say, this info has gone to US authorities….which I believe there is an inquiry about Russia currently in progress?
As for Facebook this has led to some serious questions….like How do you combat this shit?
Well, the platform is currently exploring several new improvements for keeping inauthentic accounts and activity off the platform.
For example, they are looking at how they can apply the techniques they developed for detecting fake accounts to better detect inauthentic Pages and the ads they may run.
Facebook are also experimenting with changes to efficiently detect and stop inauthentic accounts at the time they are being created.
This involves applying machine learning to limit spam and low-quality web pages, combating hidden link origins, reduce click bait and block pages from advertising who continue to spread false news.
Welcome to the Digital Cold War.