apps, software and internet

Inauthentic Facebook activity from Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, India, Russia, Spain, Ukraine?

Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, United States (©Greg Bulla)

Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, United States (©Greg Bulla)

Fake engagement deals with any inauthentic interactions on Facebook. University of Michigan alumna Sophie Zhang is an expert on this.

Zhang worked for Facebook in Menlo Park, California, United States from January 2018 to September 2020. In particular, she served as the data scientist for the Facebook Site Integrity fake engagement team, which deals with inauthentic interactions on the social media site.

After being fired by Facebook, Zhang released a 6,600-word memo, which was obtained by BuzzFeed News. According to her, inauthentic interactions on the social media site involved not only the U.S. but also the following countries:

 

Azerbaijan

There is an ongoing investigation on how the ruling political party in Azerbaijan used thousands of inauthentic assets to harass the opposition all together. Ilham Heydar oglu Aliyev, 58, has been the president of the Eurasian country since 2003.

 

Bolivia

Inauthentic activity was found in Bolivia but was not prioritized due to employee’s overload. After the resignation of the South American country’s 65th president Evo Morales, 60, on November 10, 2019, Jeanine Áñez Chávez, 53, took over as the interim president.

 

Brazil 

In 2018, 10.5 million fake reactions and fans from high-profile politicians in the elections in Brazil and the U.S. were removed. Elected on October 7, 2018, Jair Bolsonaro, 65, has been in office as the 38th president of Brazil since January 1, 2019.

 

Ecuador

Inauthentic activity was found in Ecuador but was not prioritized due to employee’s overload. Lenín Moreno, 67, has been in office as the president of the South American country since May 2017.

 

Honduras

A coordinated campaign used “thousands of inauthentic assets” to boost Honduras’s 55th president Juan Orlando Hernandez, 51, “on a massive scale to mislead the Honduran people.” For nine months, Facebook’s leaders nine months to act on the campaign.

 

India

In February 2020, a politically sophisticated network of more than a thousand actors worked to influence the local elections in Delhi, India. The network was removed without being publicly disclosed.

 

Russia

In February 2019, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) researcher informed Facebook that he had obtained Russian inauthentic activity on a high-profile U.S. political figure that the site failed to catch. Vladimir Putin, 67, has been serving as the president of Russia since May 7, 2012.

 

Spain

During the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, there was coordinated manipulation on the Spanish Health Ministry’s Facebook page. The site removed 672,000 fake accounts “acting on similar targets” in countries around the world including in the U.S.

 

Ukraine

Inauthentic scripted activity supported Ukraine’s former prime ministers Yulia Tymoshenko, 59, and Volodymyr Groysman, 42. The European country’s sixth and incumbent president Volodymyr Zelensky, 42, and his faction were not affected.

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