Justice Department Accuses Russian Spies of Cyberattacks

The Justice Department’s National Security Division claims that seven hackers suspected of working with Russia’s GRU military intelligence unit were part of a conspiracy to hack multiple organizations including the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Democratic National Committee, a nuclear energy company and several media outlets. The Fancy Bear cyber espionage group, also known as Sofacy or APT28, is accused of launching a disinformation campaign leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and “hacking to obtain non-public, health information about athletes and others in the files of anti-doping agencies in multiple countries.” Continue reading Justice Department Accuses Russian Spies of Cyberattacks

Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

Facebook identified and removed 652 fake accounts, pages and groups from Iran and Russia that were attempting to sow misinformation in several countries. Such campaigns in the past — most notably leading up to the 2016 presidential election — targeted the U.S., but these accounts targeted the U.K., Latin America and the Middle East as well. This discovery is dramatically larger than the 32 pages and accounts that Facebook removed last month. The Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency was indicted for the 2016 campaign. Continue reading Facebook Removes Fake Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

Microtargeting Is Under the Microscope for Weaponizing Ads

The U.K.’s Institute of Practitioners in Advertising called for a moratorium on political microtargeting, deeming it “weaponized ad technology.” That’s the practice whereby brands and advertisers can select who gets a Facebook ad based on specific data including location, interests and even political opinions. Now, in the U.S. and Europe, advertising executives, researchers and government officials are scrutinizing the practice, saying it can be used to manipulate voters and polarize the electorate. Continue reading Microtargeting Is Under the Microscope for Weaponizing Ads

Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm Over Data Use Concerns

Facebook just suspended Boston-based analytics firm Crimson Hexagon, which has harvested data from its site and Instagram, to investigate whether the company violated Facebook policies. Crimson Hexagon, which says it has one trillion social media posts, had contracts to analyze public Facebook data with the U.S. government and a Russian nonprofit tied to the Kremlin, as well as other clients, say sources. Facebook has “little oversight” over Crimson Hexagon once it harvests the data. Continue reading Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm Over Data Use Concerns

YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

YouTube, targeting content that promotes conspiracy theories as well as state-sponsored content, says it will begin to label all videos coming from state-funded broadcasters. That may even include the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), but in fact is intended to target such bad actors as RT, the Russian state news organization identified by U.S. intelligence as the Kremlin’s main international propaganda unit. Last year, YouTube reportedly had 5.5 million views across 20 channels of RT content. Continue reading YouTube Plans to Include Labels for All State-Funded Videos

Facebook, Google and Twitter Talk About Russian Interference

Facebook, Google and Twitter faced Congress in the past weeks to answer questions about how Russian companies and troll farms spread deceptions and inaccuracies before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The digital tech companies were also asked if there was evidence of collusion between the Russian actors and the Trump campaign, and Google was asked specifically about its commercial dealings with a Russian broadcaster that, say federal intelligence agencies, is a Kremlin propaganda outlet. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Twitter Talk About Russian Interference

Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

As the midterm elections approach, some tech companies are making changes to minimize harm and build credibility. Facebook plans to let users rank news sources they see as most trustworthy, as a means of prioritizing high-quality news. Twitter, which is still cleaning house from the presidential election, reports it has discovered 1,062 more accounts linked to an official Russian propaganda unit. Google and YouTube chief executives have promised to examine videos and other content more closely to ferret out misleading news. Continue reading Big Tech Firms Batten Down the Hatches for Midterm Elections

Facebook, Google and Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress

Facing the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Facebook, Google and Twitter executives responded to questions on why they didn’t recognize Russian-linked accounts earlier. In response, the rueful executives said their companies were working on ways to curb the activity of foreign governments, terrorists and criminals and prevent them from exploiting social media. On the other hand, however, those same Silicon Valley companies face a public that is far from united over whether they should curb free speech. Continue reading Facebook, Google and Twitter Execs Testify Before Congress