Facebook Parent Meta Battles Troll Farms, Hackers

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What is happening

Meta has published a quarterly report that describes the measures taken against troll farms, fake accounts and hackers.

why is it important

The social media giant has come under scrutiny in the past for not doing enough to tackle misinformation. The report provides more details on how it tackles cybersecurity threats.

Facebook’s parent company Meta said on Thursday it had taken down the fake accounts of a group of Russian internet trolls that were trying to create the appearance of support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The troll farm created accounts on Facebook and Instagram owned by Meta and posted pro-Russian comments on media and influencer content. Meta removes 1,037 Instagram accounts and 45 Facebook accounts from this group. The company linked the accounts to a group called “Cyber ​​Front Z” and people linked to the activity by the Internet research agencyan infamous Russian troll farm that also tried to influence the 2016 US presidential election.

Meta’s actions show how the company continues to combat cybersecurity threats. Lawmakers and advocacy groups have criticized the social media giant in the past for not acting quickly enough to tackle political misinformation. Meta shared details of his investigations in a 36-page quarterly report who also described how it tackles hackers and other threats.

Ben Nimmo, Meta’s global threat intelligence manager for influence operations, said in a call with reporters that Meta detected accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency faster than in the past, deleting fake accounts in weeks rather than years. The company began taking action against these fake accounts in March, and Instagram’s automated technology captured more than half of the accounts, according to the report.

The troll farm used the Telegram messaging app to coordinate its efforts and target other platforms, including TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. In a Telegram post from May, the trolls urged his followers to post on Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s Twitter and Instagram accounts pro-Russian comments such as “We need to explain to the Finnish politician that Ukraine will be freed from Nazism by the Russian Army.” Meta began looking into its platforms after Russian media outlet Fontanka reported on the subject.

The troll farm tried to create the false perception that its efforts were successful, but it didn’t do a good job, Meta said.

“We haven’t seen evidence to suggest they’ve been able to rally substantial genuine support, but we expect them to keep trying and we’re here to continue to block attempts,” Nimmo said. .

Meta also said it took action against two South Asian hacking groups. One of the groups, known as the Bitter APT, targeted people in New Zealand, India, Pakistan and the UK. It attempted to trick people into handing over personal information or downloading malware.

For example, he created a chat app that Apple users can download through a service developers use to test new apps.

“We have no visibility into whether this app contains malicious code and believe it may have been used for further social engineering on attacker-controlled chat,” the report said. Social engineering is a manipulation tactic that hackers use to trick people into providing confidential information such as their passwords. Meta said it reported the findings to Apple but “didn’t have visibility” into what actions the company was taking. The hacking group also used Android malware in unofficial versions of YouTube, Signal, Telegram, WhatsApp and other chat apps.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Our goal is to expose these threat actors and contain their operations wherever they target,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Meta. “But a whole-of-society response is essential to combat these cross-platform threats.”

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