Facebook shuts hundreds of Russia-linked pages, accounts

File photo showing the logo for Facebook on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. (AP)
Updated 17 January 2019
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Facebook shuts hundreds of Russia-linked pages, accounts

LONDON: Facebook says it has removed hundreds of Russia-linked pages, groups, and accounts that it says were part of two big disinformation operations, in its latest effort to fight fake news.
The social media company said Thursday it took action after finding two networks “that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its Facebook and Instagram platforms.
Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a blog post that one network operated in countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the other focused on Ukraine.
The people running the accounts represented themselves as independent news sources and posted on topics like anti-NATO sentiment and protest movements.
Gleicher says one network of 364 pages and accounts were linked to employees of Sputnik, a Russian state-run English-language news site.
Sputnik did not reply to emailed requests for comment.


Facebook needs independent ethical oversight — UK lawmakers

Updated 42 min 43 sec ago
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Facebook needs independent ethical oversight — UK lawmakers

  • Panel slams Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg for "a failure of leadership and personal responsibility"
  • Facebook became the focus of the committee’s 18-month inquiry over the Cambridge Analytica scandal

LONDON: Facebook and other big tech companies should be subject to a compulsory code of ethics to tackle the spread of fake news, the abuse of users’ data and the bullying of smaller firms, British lawmakers said on Monday.
In a damning report that singled out Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg for what it said was a failure of leadership and personal responsibility, the UK parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the companies had proved ineffective in stopping harmful content and disinformation on their platforms.
“The guiding principle of the ‘move fast and break things’ culture often seems to be that it is better to apologize than ask permission,” committee chairman Damian Collins said.
“We need a radical shift in the balance of power between the platforms and the people.”
Collins said the age of inadequate self-regulation must come to an end.
“The rights of the citizen need to be established in statute, by requiring the tech companies to adhere to a code of conduct written into law by Parliament, and overseen by an independent regulator,” he said.
Facebook became the focus of the committee’s 18-month inquiry after whistleblower Christopher Wylie alleged that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica had obtained the data of millions of users of the social network.
Zuckerberg apologized last year for a “breach of trust” over the scandal.
But he refused to appear three times before British lawmakers, a stance that showed “contempt” toward parliament and the members of nine legislatures from around the world, the committee said.
“We believe that in its evidence to the committee Facebook has often deliberately sought to frustrate our work, by giving incomplete, disingenuous and at times misleading answers to our questions,” Collins said.
“Mark Zuckerberg continually fails to show the levels of leadership and personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies.”
The lawmaker identified major threats to society from the dominance of tech companies such as Facebook — which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram — Google and Twitter.
Democracy was at risk from the malicious and relentless targeting of citizens with disinformation and personalized adverts from unidentifiable sources, they said, and social media platforms were failing to act against harmful content and respect the privacy of users.
Companies like Facebook were also using their size to bully smaller firms that relied on social media platforms to reach customers, it added.