LOS ANGELES, RAW – Facebook says it has taken down dozens of fake accounts after identifying a new coordinated political influence campaign to mislead users and organise rallies ahead of this year’s elections.
US Vice President Mike Pence has vowed to protect domestic elections from foreign interference, hours after Facebook identified the new effort to use its site to influence November’s congressional elections.
‘Any attempt to interfere in our elections is an affront to our democracy and it will not be allowed,’ Pence said at a Department of Homeland Security cyber summit in New York.
‘The United States of America will not tolerate any foreign interference in our elections from any nation state.’
Pence did not specifically mention Facebook’s disclosure. But he said he and President Donald Trump accepted the assessment by US intelligence agencies that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has made conflicting statements on that assessment, sometimes saying he is not sure that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 race.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is probing whether Trump campaign officials worked with Moscow to try to sway the 2016 presidential election.
Russia has denied meddling and Trump denies any collusion took place.
Earlier in the day, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen unveiled plans to set up a national cyber risk management centre, bolstering collaboration with the private sector to defend the nation against hacking.
It comes after Facebook removed 32 pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram.
The company said it was still in the early stages of its investigation.
‘This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want people or organisations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing,’ the company said in a blogpost.
Facebook previously said 126 million Americans may have seen Russian-backed political content on Facebook over a two-year period, and that 16 million may have been exposed to Russian information on Instagram.