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Business & Technology

Russia still largest driver of disinformation on social media, Facebook report finds

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Russia still largest driver of disinformation on social media, Facebook report finds

2021-09-17 01:26:16

By K. Shalini  Image Source: Screen Shot

A Facebook report found that most of the fake accounts uncovered on the site originated in Russia. Russia continues to be the largest producer of disinformation on social media, with the country being the source of the most fake and misleading Facebook accounts, according to a new report.

A report from Facebook published Wednesday revealed that the social media giant has uncovered disinformation campaigns in more than 50 countries since 2017 and that Russia is the top source of "coordinated inauthentic behavior," with 27 of the fake networks identified.

Coordinated inauthentic behavior is "any coordinated network of accounts, pages and groups that centrally relies on fake accounts to mislead Facebook and people using our services about who is behind it and what they are doing," according to Facebook.

Behind Russia, Iran is the second largest source of such networks, with 23. It is followed by Myanmar and the U.S. with nine and Ukraine with eight networks.

The policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior instituted at Facebook was developed in response to foreign interference by Russian actors in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Since then, Facebook stated, the company has been investigating and disrupting operations around the world.

According to the report, of the 150 networks Facebook has dismantled since 2017, 45% were targeting domestic audiences, with 38% targeting countries abroad. Of the countries most frequently targeted by foreign disinformation networks, the U.S. was the top target, followed by Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

The report details several Russian disinformation networks that Facebook has dismantled, including one run by Russian military intelligence that focused on Ukraine and neighboring countries and a network linked to the Russian Internet Research Agency that claimed it was running thousands of fake accounts with the capacity to sway the results in the 2018 U.S. midterm elections.

In both cases, Facebook's report states that the disinformation gained no significant traction and claims of a larger operation were false.

In the year leading up to the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the report states that Facebook discovered more than a dozen coordinated inauthentic behavior operations targeting Americans. The top three sources of those networks were Russia, Iran and the U.S. itself. Facebook removed five disinformation networks in each country.

In response to Facebook's increased efforts to stop disinformation networks, the more sophisticated actors, including from Russia and China, have improved their operational security and "are showing more discipline to avoid careless mistakes" and being caught.

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