Facebook: Russian Influence Attempt Thwarted
Facebook says it has foiled a Russian operation aimed at influencing left-wing voters in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The medium Peace Data, which was active on Facebook, is said to have been set up by the Russians as a pseudo-journalism platform, whereby freelance journalists were also hired to write about American and British politics.
According to Facebook, Peace Data was at the heart of the operation, which, among other things, aimed to influence the upcoming presidential election on November 3. The website had 13 accounts and two pages, which were rigged in May and removed Monday for the use of false identities and other forms of “coordinated non-authentic behaviour.”
Facebook says it has found links between Peace Data and Russian Internet Research Agency, a Saint Petersburg company that, according to US intelligence agencies, played a crucial role in influencing voters ahead of the 2016 election.
According to researchers, Peace Data mainly targeted progressive, left-wing groups in the US and UK. The website brought messages in which a critical tone was taken on right-wing and centre-left positions. In the US, “special attention was paid to racial and political tensions”.
President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden were both portrayed negatively. According to the researchers, the purpose of the website was to draw the left-wing public away from Biden’s camp.
Peace Data did not respond to a request for comment, and Russian government officials did not respond. Moscow has in the past always denied trying to influence elections and says it does not interfere in other countries’ internal affairs.
A spokesman for Trump’s campaign says the president is going to win this year’s election fairly. “We do not need or want foreign intervention,” said the spokesman.
Twitter reports that as a result of the operation, it took five accounts offline that can be traced back to the Russian government.