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Facebook bans election-attack firm linked to Israeli military and 'dozens' more disinformation accounts

Published: May 16, 2019
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Source: Boing Boing

Facebook announced today that is has banned an Israeli firm that ran a foreign psyops campaign to disrupt election results in various countries.

Facebook claims to have canceled dozens of accounts engaged in spreading disinformation, they said Thursday.

Some of the newly banned accounts are said to be linked to the Archimedes Group, a Tel Aviv-based consulting firm that claims to be able to “change reality.”

The Archimedes website shows that its CEO is the former director of the European Friends of Israel lobbying group, a former political adviser in Israel’s parliament, and an ex-intelligence agent for the Israeli air force.

Archimedes advertises itself online as a consulting firm for presidential election campaigns.

From the Associated Press:

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, told reporters that the tech giant had purged 65 Israeli accounts, 161 pages, dozens of groups and four Instagram accounts. Many were linked to the Archimedes Group, a Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm that boasts of its social media skills and ability to “change reality.”

Gleicher said Facebook could not speculate about Archimedes’ motives, which “may be commercial or political.”

But he said Facebook discovered “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” with accounts posing as certain political candidates, smearing opponents and presenting as local news organizations peddling supposedly leaked information.

The activity appeared focused on Sub-Saharan African countries but was also scattered in parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America. The pages have racked up 2.8 million followers and hundreds of thousands of views.

Gleicher said Archimedes had spent some $800,000 on fake ads and that its deceptive activity dated back to 2012. He said Facebook has banned Archimedes.

Facebook has come under pressure to more aggressively and transparently tackle misinformation aimed at sowing division and confusion around elections, since the revelation that Russia used Facebook to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Related Articles:

An Israel-based campaign to meddle in the elections of several African, Asian and Latin American countries has been uncovered by social media giant Facebook.

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