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Posted on July 31 2018

 

as previously discussed here, here here here  along with the previously discussed HPSCI Facebook ads, found here. and Russia’s hybrid cyber war, found here.

Donald Trump’s (in my opinion) Dereliction of Duty, his failure to address the persistent Cyber attacks on our Country, found here.

 

Facebook...purge..

 

As some of you may recall Facebook has a little known blog, (similar to Twitter’s blog) for future reference:

Facebook News Blog, found here.

Facebook’s July 31 Removing Bad Actors Blog Entry found here.

Sample (zipped) files of the Facebook Group/Pages can be found here 

 

Today we removed 32 Pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior. This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want people or organizations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing.

It’s clear that whoever set up these accounts went to much greater lengths to obscure their true identities than the Russian-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) has in the past. We believe this could be partly

 

Just a few hours ago Facebook held a conference call with the media and stakeholders, shortly thereafter they published the transcript. I highly recommend you take a moment to read the transcript, found here.

 

As the Facebook telephone townhall and subsequent blog entry discuss, personally speaking it is refreshing to see Facebook being this transparent. Note, that is NOT me saying I’m willing to open a Facebook account, that is me being intellectually honest enough to say, Facebook’s announcement and fulsome disclosure is, refreshing and a step in the right direction.

 

Facebook’s head of cyber security, Nathaniel Gleicher explained to reporters on the conference call the following data points:

 

In total, more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these Pages, the earliest of which was created in March 2017. The latest was created in May 2018.

The most followed Facebook Pages were “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” “Mindful Being,” and “Resisters.” The remaining Pages had between zero and 10 followers, and the Instagram accounts had zero followers.

There were more than 9,500 organic posts created by these accounts on Facebook, and one piece of content on Instagram.

They ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in US and Canadian dollars. The first ad was created in April 2017, and the last was created in June 2018.

 

The Pages created about 30 events since May 2017. About half had fewer than 100 accounts interested in attending. The largest had approximately 4,700 accounts interested in attending, and 1,400 users said that they would attend.  (emphasis added)

 

To Facebook’s credit, it appears they understand their roll and their responsibility. With that said in today’s announcement Facebook explained the four factors and went on to explain how they used these factors in the current framework to:

1) identify bad actors.

2) best practices and collaboration.

3) how Facebook plans to execute their plan to address this persistent cyber-attack. 

Again this is not me saying I’m opening a Facebook account, this is me saying that Facebook’s transparency on this particular matter should be lauded. Yes Twitter and Google I’m looking right at you. 

 

Facebook goes on to explain their process and rationale used to remove these accounts/pages:

We disabled the event earlier today and have reached out to the admins of the fiveother Pages to update them on what happened. This afternoon, we’ll begin informingthe approximately 2,600 users interested in the event, and the more than 600 users who said they’d attend, about what happened.

 

As a gentle reminder, back in mid-May of 2018 Facebook announced a partnership with the Atlantic Council (AC) and AC’s Digital Forensics Research Lab (DFRL), this link will take you to DFRL’s Meduim Page. I would bookmark this DFRL page. As it is continually updated. 

 

Here are just a few examples that DFRL and Facebook identified as probable Russian linked accounts. Again remember that Russia plays both sides against each other and the “middle”. I highly recommend you take a few moments and read DFRL’s blog entry, they present the data in an agnostic manner and in doing so their expertise is a resource that should be followed closely, the DFRL entry can found here.

 

 

Conclusions

Given Facebook’s conclusion that these accounts were inauthentic, they appear to have constituted an attempt by an external actor — possibly, though not certainly, in the Russian-speaking world — to infiltrate left-wing American communities. The @resisterz account, in particular, attempted to mobilize its audience for a confrontation with the far right.’

Such online activity poses a danger of both disinformation, which we define as deliberate spread of false information, and misinformation, which we define as the unintentional spread of false information. The Russian operation in 2014 through 2017 showed how easily disinformation actors could seed their falsehoods into genuine American communities on the right and the left; Americans thus became the unwitting amplifiers of Russian information operations.

 

See DFRL’s tweet below 

 

 

Another excellent paper you should read is the Atlantic Council’s Beyond Atribution: Seekimh National Resposiblity for Cyber Attacks, written by Jason Healey. Link found here.

 

For those of you who follow me on twitter you already know that I rarely use hashtags.  In my extremely limited experience I have found  that accounts who prolifically use hastags almost invariably prove to “amplify” messages/narratives and I don’t want any part of that. Given that facts matter and I’m not inclined to amplify any Russian Active Measures or Disinformation.

ICYMI the Justice Department recently published the following report, see twitter thread below:

 

 

See the DNI Cyber report on economic espionage, which was publicly released late last week: 

 

 

My point? In the absence of effective leadership, given that time and time again Donald Trump is encapable or even more frightening unwilling to rise to the occasion and be an actual leader our Country needs. His failure to “faithfully uphold and defend the constitution” and to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” mean it’s up to us, individually to educate ourselves and protect ourselves from the ongoing information and cyber war.

Which means you need to learn how to identify bad actors, their methods such as active measures and subversion. Resist the urge to let your emotions take over. Facts matter as does the truth. Facts and data are emotionally agnostic. And sadly the truth is our current Commander in Chief actually uses Active Measures on Americans everyday. Trump engages and in some cases he actually amplifies Russian Active Measures. He traffics in conspiracy theories. Trump constantly beats the Fake News drum. Simply put, Trump uses his twitter account like an actual Russian Active Measures weapon. 

 

When I created the following Twitter thread, admittedly it was me trying to cut through the noise, Disinformation and amplifications. My point is knowledge is power, you just have to be willing to accept the knowledge.

 

 

And lastly our friends in the U.K. Parliament issued the following 89 page report on “Fake News” I highly recommend you carve out a few moments and read this report, found here.

 

..”phenomenon of ‘fake news’, distributed largely through social media, to issues concerning the very future of democracy. Arguably, more invasive than obviously false information is the relentless targeting of hyper-partisan views, which play to the fears and prejudices of people, in order to infleunce their voting plans and their behaviour. “

 

My best advice is: to remain skeptical, ask questions and always trust your gut. With respect to Donald Trump’s new “collusion isn’t a crime” sure on its face that -might- be a truthful statement, conversely Trump et al have said “no collusion” and now they’ve pivoted to collusion isn’t a crime? Come on now...here’s a simple question: (hypothetically speaking) let’s assume that Trump et al are in fact innocent, then WHY does Trump act so guilty? No really every action or inaction does he act like he’s innocent? NOPE.

 

 

-Spicy Out

 

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