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Facebook Removes More Fake Pages Trying to Make You Mad About Politics

If you were planning to attend an anti-right rally in D.C. next week, we've got some awkward news for you.

Facebook announced today that it has removed 32 accounts that it believes were fraudulently attempting to use divisive politics to influence the midterm elections.

Only a handful of pages had any significant number of followers, but in total, 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the pages, all of which were made since 2017. Based on the information Facebook released, this particular group of fake pages was targeting people on the left. One of the fake pages—for a group called "Resisters"—created a Facebook event called "No Unite the Right 2" in Washington, D.C., to take place on August 10; it apparently coordinated with five real organizations to co-host it. Facebook canceled the event and warned the other groups what was going on. The event had attracted 2,600 interested users, and 600 people said they would attend.

Fake Facebook RallyFacebook

This campaign sounds similar to the fraudulent pages and rallies that preceded the 2016 election, which were ultimately blamed on the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA). At this point, Facebook does not have enough information to say with any certainty that Russian interests are responsible for this latest round of content and advertising ($11,000 worth). The people responsible for these pages are doing a better job at covering their tracks, but Facebook says some of the activity is "consistent" with the behavior they saw the IRA doing during the run-up to the 2016 election.

Facebook doesn't offer any evidence that these campaigns are targeting any particular candidate.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), on the Senate's Intelligence Committee, is already responding to demand changes in laws to censor these campaigns: "Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity. I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress on updating our laws to better protect our democracy in the future."

But what Facebook has released so far is really just an attempt to magnify already existent cultural divisions. These pages are peddling anger and outrage. People can choose whether to care or be outraged. This apparent threat to democracy is a handful of outside actors telling a certain group of people exactly what they want to hear. If that's a threat to our democracy, it's way too late.

When details of the Russian social media trolling attempt to influence the 2016 election came out, Reason's Jacob Sullum looked it over and questioned how much impact it actually had. It's probably worth asking the same questions this time. Watch below:

Photo Credit: Eric Gaillard/REUTERS/Newscom

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  • ||

    If you were planning to attend an anti-right rally in D.C. next week, we've got some awkward news for you.

    "You mean Trump actually won the election?"

  • John||

    If I plan a "fake event" and people show up to it believing it is real and supporting whatever cause my even claims to support, is it really a "fake event" anymore?

  • ||

    I was wondering the same thing.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    What if it is in Hollywood and fake people attend?

  • ||

    If they pretend to work at your fake event and you pretend to pay them, is it still just an event?

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    I hope your Flagitously Chubbalicious 2018 event is a big hit, John.

  • MasterThief||

    That part of FB's rationale doesn't make sense to me. Real people are coming together on this page due to shared interests. People are interested in and other groups are coordinating with this group to hold events. I'd say that makes it a real group regardless of who is pulling the strings of that group's leadership. A little transparency on that last part would be welcome, but this really is just people doing what they want and trying to scapegoat others for their actions. I didn't find the supposed Russian troll posts and accounts to be an issue when they were supposedly helping Republicans and I don't find them to be an issue when they're supposed to help the Democrats. It's ultimately still Americans who are in agreement with whatever bs is being posted no matter how stupid it is.

  • MarkLastname||

    George Berkely long ago argued that all people are really only figments of Mark Zuckerberg's imagination, so are any events really 'real?'

  • sharmota4zeb||

    All the world is a stage, and we are just actors.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Good point.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Facebook announced today that it has removed 32 accounts that it believes were fraudulently attempting to use divisive politics to influence the midterm elections."

    Read this on the internet, so it must be true.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Now we know it's not true.

  • Eddy||

    "32 accounts that it believes were fraudulently attempting to use divisive politics to influence the midterm elections."

    If it's only 32, then we have nothing to worry about. I personally thought they misplaced a few decimal places. Like, a lot of decimal places.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    As apposed to, "My state certified teacher told me, so it must be true."

  • ||

    Sullum is hardly an objective source on this.

    So you're saying that you have objective proof that these 39,000 voters, if duly informed as to which articles were fake news and which articles were legitimate would change their votes? Or are you saying there is (or should be) a 'takesies backsies' clause introduced into our election process?

  • Giant Realistic Flying Tiger||

    Child, has it ever occurred to you that your elders ignore you because of your frequently demonstrated inability to hold anything even resembling an adult conversation?

  • damikesc||

    I agree.

    Without Russian involvement, Trump wouldve won the popular vote.

  • MarkLastname||

    No rights are absolute, not even freedom of speech! Goobers oppose regulating the internet to protect our democracy because they live Putin's Paulist authoritarianism!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    DO SOMETHING! has now officially been done.

  • ||

    What a relief!

  • Nardz||

    So Facebook's stock tanks just as they promise to double spending on "security"... and a week later they "discover" a Russian infiltration plot.

    Smells fishy

  • loveconstitution1789||

    FB is in full damage control at this point.

  • Nardz||

    "...created a Facebook event called "No Unite the Right 2" in Washington, D.C., to take place on August 10; it apparently coordinated with five real organizations to co-host it. Facebook canceled the event and warned the other groups what was going on."

    So Facebook has the... prerogative... to cancel an event because it doesn't like one of the parties involved in organizing it?
    So the 600 people who were going to attend are just going to stay home now?
    This is weird.

  • Robert||

    How could Facebook even cancel an event, which would take place in meat-space? This story totally confuses me but reads as creepy as hell. What makes a page a fake page, unless Facebook itself put it up?

  • RabbitHead||

    An "event" in FB-speak is a record in the database that describes an event.

    As someone who worked in information systems it always frustrates me when people can't be bothered to use precise language to clarify these things.

  • Nardz||

    But weren't they planning on physically being somewhere in DC?

  • Robert||

    It took me long enough to get used to "like" as such jargon.

  • Nardz||

    "Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), on the Senate's Intelligence Committee, is already responding to demand changes in laws to censor these campaigns: "Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity. I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress on updating our laws to better protect our democracy in the future."

    The pesky thing about laws is that little document called the US Constitution. Laws might not hold up in court.
    It's a lot better just to get private companies to do the censorship themselves, as they're not bound by the constitution the same way government is.

  • Nardz||

    "But what Facebook has released so far is really just an attempt to magnify already existent cultural divisions. These pages are peddling anger and outrage. People can choose whether to care or be outraged. This apparent threat to democracy is a handful of outside actors telling a certain group of people exactly what they want to hear. If that's a threat to our democracy, it's way too late."

    How is this any different than what CNN, WaPo, or Shika do?

  • MasterThief||

    It's exactly what domestic individuals and groups already do. If the message didn't appeal to them, then even a misleading foreign influence wouldn't have any effect. It's pointing fingers at someone else and blaming them for your own actions.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Its a protectionist position on information.

    Same as NJ and NY giving taxpayer money to 'support' local journalism.

    These fucking Lefties bash Trump for protectionism and they are doing the same thing with information. Unlike Trump, the media will not get their pro-free sppech opponents to crack under the pressure.

  • gphx||

    If Reason is dumb enough to fall for the Russian narrative and we troll it does that make us Russian trolls?

  • RabbitHead||

    It's always been trolls all the way down.

    The fact that they are nested trolls is what makes them Russian.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    I wondee why the same people complaining about Russian interference do not complain about NVC's blatant attempt to influence the election by leaking that Access Hollywood tape?

    Since when did NBC have tbe right to interfere?

  • NashTiger||

    How about China targeting Red States with their tariffs?

  • RabbitHead||

    NBC is different. Its like Radio Free Europe for flyover country.

    It's for their own good, you know.

  • buybuydandavis||

    " Facebook announced today that it has removed 32 accounts that it believes were fraudulently attempting to use divisive politics to influence the midterm elections.
    ...
    Based on the information Facebook released, this particular group of fake pages was targeting people on the left. "

    Does anyone have any question whose side Facebook and Twitter are on?

  • Eddy||

    Is sinister influences trying to steal your election, comrades. You must not be letting them do this, instead please to be reading eye-opening book about the enemy's Protocols.

  • Rockabilly||

    Man, you progressives need to chill.

    When was the last time you got wild to music and did some drugs, even smoking weed?

    Here's a free sample of the wild music.

    You supply the weed, but even without a puff of weed, you will go wild from the voodoo rock and roll drums and loud guitars

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIQMktyP90s

  • loveconstitution1789||

    So FB is removing british pages, EU pages, chinese pages, etc?

    Its a private company but fuck them and their apttempt to pick correct speech.

    FB lost 20% stock value in one day and their decline will continue.

  • CptNerd||

    If you can't trust Facebook, who can you trust?

    (Do I have to put /sarc?)

  • sharmota4zeb||

    I heard somewhere that someone with ties to Russians wrote an influential poem that ended up on an important statue in the New York City Harbor. How long will it be before progressives tear down that statue to save us from Russian influence? With Facebook's help, we can march towards the future.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    Facebook needs to stay out of the event business entirely. I get these dumb alerts all the time that say "you have an event today." When I check, it's invariably some street art festival or something where two months ago I checked "interested." To me, "interested" means "might be amusing if I have nothing else to do that day." It is not the same as "going." FB does not understand the distinction at all because they are dumb.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

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