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Iran And Russia Are The Main Purveyors Of Disinformation

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For the past four years, the American public has been the primary target of disinformation being proliferated by Russia and Iran, two of the world’s foremost spreaders of lies. This was according to social media giant Facebook’s report, which is aiming to get rid of black propaganda in its platform.

In its efforts to curb false news, Facebook shut down a network made up of fake accounts from 2017 to 2020. Most of these pages are aimed at influencing the thoughts of unknowing Americans in a platform of 2.85 billion users globally.

“Influence operations are not new, but over the past several years they have burst into global public consciousness. These campaigns attempt to undermine trust in civic institutions and corrupt public debate by exploiting the same digital tools that have diversified the online public square and empowered critical discussions from Me Too to the Black Lives Matter movements,” the report elaborated.

Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of Facebook’s cybersecurity policy has made strides in cleaning up the platform ever since Russian intelligence tried to influence the 2016 US presidential election by using a network of fake accounts.

“I would never say we caught everything, we’ve got a pretty good and improving record of catching, in particular, the operations that are getting more attention,” Gleicher said.

According to Facebook, a large volume of “Coordinated Authentic Behavior” originated from Russia, with most of them being conducted not only by the Russian and Iranian governments but also from influence operations by intelligence agencies.

Propagandists however, have levelled-up their disinformation game, using more sophisticated strategies to make the unsuspecting public believe such falsehoods. 

“As threat actors evade enforcement by co-opting witting and unwitting people to blur the lines between authentic domestic discourse and manipulation, it will get harder to discern what is and isn’t part of a deceptive influence campaign. Going forward, as more domestic campaigns push the boundaries of enforcement across platforms, we should expect policy calls to get harder,” Facebook explained.

Graham Brookie, Atlanta Council’s director of the Digital Forensic Research Lab, believes that the report by Facebook is a valuable reference that can help uncover what other oppressive regimes around the world are doing to control the minds of their own people.

“Facebook has invested a lot of money in building up muscle memory to consistently disclose this type of behavior. It’s a large company that has other systemic vulnerabilities that are unaccounted for, but this is one where they’ve had leadership on,” Brookie said.

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