Facebook and Twitter said they coordinated efforts ahead of the 2018 elections to remove thousands of accounts tied to foreign governments that used similar tactics as were used in 2016, NBC reported Thursday.
The Russian operation mirrored the operation undertook by the Internet Research Agency, an organization indicted for spreading misinformation before the 2016 election. The ploy in 2018 was less effective than what was employed two years ago, according to Twitter.
“Through ongoing analyses and investigations, we continue to build on our contextual understanding of these networks of accounts to improve our ability to find and suspend this activity as quickly as possible in the future,” Twitter’s director of public policy Carlos Monje Jr. wrote in a statement.
“This is particularly vital as groups such as the IRA evolve their practices in response to industry-wide suspension efforts,” Monje Jr. added. Twitter also said it removed about 6,000 posts ahead of the election, including tweets about how and when to vote in the midterm elections. Some trolls told follower to vote the day after the election.
Facebook meanwhile removed 783 accounts who were participating in what the company calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior” from Iranian accounts, which appeared on both Instagram and Facebook. They were attempting to “represent themselves to be news outlets but are controlled by actors operating from Iran.”
Facebook has been on a tear recently, dinging several accounts recently associated troll behavior. The social media company suspended several accounts in December linked to Democratic operatives who orchestrated a ruse to fool Alabama voters into believing Russian bots were fueling Republican Roy Moore’s failed senatorial bid.
IRA targeted users who had shown interest in black history, the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X, among other minority groups. The most popular of the Russian Instagram accounts was @blackstagram, with 303,663 followers. The report’s authors noted that the company exploited traditional societal schisms to fracture the electorate.
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