Another Day, Another Major Disinformation Effort Facebook Thinks Is Ok
from the hoodwinked-patriots-dot-come dept
Our disinformation problem simply isn’t going away. While the Russian “Internet Research Agency” has received most of the attention for filling the internet with bullshit and bile, the problem is routinely disclosed to be far larger than that. Take for example the thriving “fake news” efforts coming out of Macedonia, where (with the help of US allies) filling the internet and Facebook with disinformation has become a cottage industry. And while Facebook spends a lot of time insisting they’re taking radical steps to police the problem in the wake of genocide in Myanmar, it remains fairly clear they still don’t have a handle on the problem.
For example yet another disinformation operation uncovered this week involves a Ukrainian-run “I Love America” Facebook group with more than a million members. In concert with other similar pages like “God bless Donald and Melania Trump and God bless America,” the effort lures boomers in with cute kittens and patriotic memes before getting to the real meat and potatoes of the effort:
Many of the posts are just repurposed versions previously pushed by the IRA in a bid to try and stoke existing racial and political tensions in the United States:
And while the usual suspects will likely try to downplay this as “just a few harmless memes,” the outfit’s engagement surpasses many of the biggest, actual news organizations on Facebook, meaning there’s still an awful lot of folks having their patriotism and military respect exploited and their heads filled with fluff and nonsense so some Ukrainian nitwits can make a buck:
Collectively this effort is far larger than the IRA-linked Facebook groups highlighted in the Mueller report, none of which had more than 390,000 members. The report doesn’t think this effort is covert or sophisticated enough to be a government-backed effort (in large part because the Ukrainian backers aren’t trying to hide who they are), and is likely just some “entrepreneurs” using pro-Trump propaganda and kittens to make money. Facebook, for its part, doesn’t think this rises to the level of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” because the Ukranians aren’t hiding their identity (read: it’s profitable to Facebook):
“A Facebook spokesperson told Popular Information that the company does not believe any of the Facebook pages discussed in this article violate its policies, including the policy against “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Facebook defines “coordinated inauthentic behavior” as “when groups of pages or people work together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing.”
While it may not be part of a foreign-government backed campaign, the end result is the same. Facebook users are being exploited and having their heads filled with rocks for profit. And (at least until this story gets some traction), Facebook’s cool with it.
Update: That didn’t take long, and Facebook appears to have seen the problem with a bunch of Ukrainians misleading US Facebook users to make a quick buck:
Sputnik, I have some bad news for you. https://t.co/IR2WYodQRK
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 23, 2019