Cybersecurity

African based fake accounts are elements of Russian troll army

The so called web brigades, also known as Russia’s troll army, are actively used as Internet political commentators to spread disinformation and conduct Russian information campaigns. In this regard it worth mentioning Brexit, MH17 case, elections in the USA. They actively use various social media platforms for their activity.

Facebook and Twitter have recently closed down another network of African-based fake accounts connected to the earlier blocked Russian trolls.

The social media companies claim those accounts, based in Ghana and Nigeria, were actually targeted at US people.

They explained although none of their actions focused on elections or politicians-candidates, the network had asked for political advertisements there.

Twitter explained the accounts tried to “cast in a bone”.

An investigation conducted by Facebook along with CNN discovered some accounts had posted as a charity located in Ghana.

By results of investigation, the troll factory was operated through the head office of NGO Eliminating Barriers for the Liberation of Africa (Ebla). Others presented as blogs or tried to use Facebook groups or communities for their activity. All of them used topics such as black community history, fashion trends, celebrities life, US news.

Troll activities

They provided adverse content and information about law enforcement brutality and oppression. For example, one account posed in a Facebook group as the cousin of an African American who died in police custody.

Facebook stated the accounts were relatively recently created and acting from Africa on behalf of Russian individuals having links with troll factory – the Internet Research Agency, also  known as the Trolls from Olgino. It is a Russian company involved in online influence operations on behalf of Russian business and political interests.

It stated its systems had denied the demands to run political advertisements in the USA, and it closed down 49 Facebook accounts, 85 on Instagram and 69 other pages. It meant about 278,000 followers, with around 65 % are US based individuals.

Twitter also eliminated 71 accounts, that is 68,000 followers. It stated that the accounts tried to drive a wedge with discussions about race and civil rights.

Earlier blocked accounts

Talking about investigation results Facebook explained: “We’re constantly trying to identify and block this type of action because we don’t want our services to be used for manipulations. We’re taking down these pages and accounts because this activity was linked to individuals associated with the Internet Research Agency, previously banned from Facebook. They also used fake accounts and co-ordinated with one another to mislead people about what they were doing. That conduct was the basic cause for our measures, not the content they posted.”

Nowadays troll factories are typical instruments to reach political aims, especially by Moscow. And now social media companies are trying to unsure security of their platforms. Such a desire has appeared since U.S. intelligence officials stated that Russia used social media platforms for their operations aimed at electing President Donald Trump (2016 elections).

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