Facebook has uncovered 32 pages and accounts working together to spread messaging tied to hot-button issues, the same tactics used during the 2016 election. The discovery comes amid primaries for midterm elections across the country.
On Tuesday Facebook announced it had deactivated the bad actors for “inauthentic behavior.” Facebook said that the people behind the accounts went to greater lengths to conceal their identities than in past influence campaigns. As a result, Facebook isn’t able to confirm whether or not the campaign came from Russia.
The company discovered one fraudulent page, called “Resisters,” which worked with legitimate groups to organize a counter-protest to a white nationalist rally in Washington, D.C. in August. More than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of the inauthentic pages Facebook identified.
Earlier this month, agents of the Russian government were indicted for using social media and other online tactics to interfere in the 2016 election. Facebook couldn’t determine whether the recently discovered campaign was operated by Russia but said some of the activity was consistent with previous campaigns by Russia’s Internet Research Agency.
“We hope to get new information from law enforcement and other companies so we can better understand what happened — and we’ll share any additional findings with law enforcement and Congress,” wrote Facebook cybersecurity lead Nathaniel Gleicher in a blog post. “However, we may never be able to identify the source with the same level of confidence we had in naming the IRA last year.”
Facebook has notified law enforcement agencies and Congress of the campaign. Facebook publicized the results of its initial investigation Tuesday but its inquiry into the campaign is ongoing.