Russian Facebook operatives sacrificing followers to stay undetected

Russian Facebook operatives sacrificing followers to stay undetected
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A senior Facebook official says Russian operatives trying to spread misinformation ahead of next year's presidential election are adopting new tactics to try and remain undetected, according to report in Reuters on Thursday.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, told Reuters that the company has taken steps that are leaving those fake accounts struggling. In turn, Russian accounts are cutting back on their followers and being more careful in introducing new content to avoid detection.

“If you are very, very loud, if you go viral very, very fast that’s exactly the sort of thing that our automated systems will detect and flag,” Gleicher told the news source. “So when actors have really diligent, deliberate and effective operational security it weakens their ability to build an audience."

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Gleicher's comments come after a network of Instagram accounts that was targeting U.S. users and was linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency was disbanded by Facebook on Monday.

In total, the network of accounts had about 246,000 followers, with 60 percent of those followers being Americans. However, according to Facebook, that number is well short of the 126 million Americans who possibly saw Russian-made content regarding the 2016 election.

Russian operatives are also focusing more on sharing content they find online than introducing original posts.

Reuters reported that according to a report from a social media analytics firm, Graphika, those practices "gave each asset less of a discernible personality and therefore may have reduced the [campaign’s] ability to build audiences."

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U.S. prosecutors have accused Evgeny Prigozhin, a Russian catering tycoon, of organizing the Internet Research Agency's effort through Concord Management and Consulting LLC. 

Both Prigozhin and lawyers for Concord Management and Consulting LLC did not respond to Reuters' request for comment.