Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said that while the accounts have not primarily targeted the United States, there are concerns that accounts like this could be used in Russian influence operations. in the run-up to the US presidential election in November.
According to US prosecutors, in 2016, Russian military intelligence used fake online characters and set up a website and Facebook account for “DC Leaks,” a page that spread and disseminated hacked emails related to the campaign. ‘Hillary Clinton. Russia was responsible for the hack, US prosecutors said.
Gleicher said Facebook had not seen specific evidence of a so-called ‘hack and leak’ operation, but said: “We believe, and I think a number of experts realistically believe, this is one of the threats we should be prepared for. ”
Facebook said the accounts it had closed focused primarily on “the Far East, Russia’s neighboring countries and Syria.”
Facebook said it had evidence the group posed as journalists to contact news agencies – something, Gleicher said, that American journalists should keep in mind in the final weeks of the election campaign.
Facebook also said it closed accounts linked to people who had been associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the infamous Russian troll group that used social media in an attempt to meddle in the 2016 election.
Facebook has identified a website, linked to the pages it closed, which describes itself as an “independent center for analysis” but which is linked to the trolling operation.
Facebook identified this after advice from the FBI, the company said.
Earlier this month, following further advice from the FBI, Facebook shut down the accounts of a website masquerading as an independent left-wing media outlet. Facebook said this site is also linked to the IRA. The website recruited unwitting American writers to contribute.
Russia has repeatedly denied using social media to interfere in the 2016 election.