Facebook Admits it's a Tool for Propagandists

Facebook Admits it's a Tool for Propagandists

Back in January, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he was “quite proud of the impact that we were able to have on civic discourse,” doubling down on his stance that the rise of misinformation, spread of outright propaganda, and rapid erosion of trust in the fourth estate were anyone’s problems but his. A whitepaper from the world’s largest social media platform—where an estimated 66 percent of the site’s American users get their news—casually mentions that Facebook is also fertile soil for “subtle and insidious forms of misuse, including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people.”

Wow, fuck this guy!

The paper—first obtained by Reuters—was drafted by well-heeled analysts Jen Weedon and William Nuland, formerly from FireEye, Inc and Dell SecureWorks, respectively, as well as Alex Stamos, the social giant’s chief security officer. It outlines what teens in Russia and the United States’ far-right have known for some time now: Every social network can be gamed.

Sophisticated spear phishing attacks and malware designed to compromise the security of political operatives or journalists is dystopian as shit but not terribly novel. The meat of the paper is Facebook admitting that its product can be used as a highly-tuned, souped-up vehicle for propaganda. Armies of sockpuppet accounts strategically liking, commenting, and sharing are able to inflate the visibility of posts until they reflect an ideological consensus that may not actually exist. At that point, easily swayed real humans jump on the bandwagon. “Well-executed information operations have the potential to gain influence organically, through authentic channels and networks, even if they originate from inauthentic sources, such as fake accounts,” the paper states.

If that sounds familiar, yes, we’ve been telling you this for a long time.

The company later pats itself on the back for “taking action against over 30,000 fake accounts” in France, presumably those attempting to sway the country’s ongoing election in favor of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. In the highly organized Discord server La Taverne des Patriotes, attacks on other platforms are coordinated, graphic designers create new politicized memes. The “foreign legion” room is a meeting place for those outside France who wish to influence the election, and is mostly comprised of exiles from the largely defunct Great Liberation of France server which cropped up in the wake of Trump’s election. The third message in the announcements channel asks the server’s users to join a newly-created anti-Macron Facebook group.

 

Read more: http://gizmodo.com/facebook-shruggingly-admits-its-a-tool-for-propagandist-1794722491

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