Midterm attackers cited Black Lives Matter in false flag Facebook rally

Unknown midterm election attackers that Facebook has removed were hosting a political rally next month that they pinned on Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other organizations, according to third-party event websites that scraped the now-removed Facebook events.

Facebook provided an image of the deleted “No Unite The Right 2 – DC” event as part of its announcement today that merely showed its image, title, date, location, and that a Page called “Resisters” was one of the hosts of the propaganda event. But a scraped event description TechCrunch discovered on Rallyist provides deeper insight into the disruptive information operation. Facebook won’t name the source of the election interference but said the attackers shared a connection through a single account to the Russian Internet Research Agency responsible for 2016 presidential election interference on Facebook.

“We are calling all anti-fascists and people of good conscience to participate in international days of action August 10 through August 12 and a mass mobilization in Washington DC” the description reads. “We occupy ICE offices, confront racism, antisemitism, islamaphobia, xenophobia, and white nationalism. We will be in the streets on August 10-12, and we intend to win.”

But what’s especially alarming is how the event description concludes [emphasis mine]. “Signed, Black Lives Matter Charlottesville, Black Lives Matter D.C., Charlottesville Summer of Resistance Welcoming Committee Agency, Crimethinc Ex-Workers Collective, Crushing Colonialism, D.C. Antifascist Collective, Future is Feminists, Holler Network, Hoods4Justice, The International, Capoeira Angola Foundation-DC (FICA-DC), Libertarian Socialist Caucus Of The DSA, March For Racial Justice, Maryland Antifa, One People’s Project, Resist This (Former DisruptJ20), Rising Tide North America, Smash Racism D.C., Showing Up for Racial Justice Charlottesville, Suffolk County DSA, Workers Against Racism, 350 DC.”

It’s unclear if the attackers effectively ‘forged’ the signature of these groups, or duped them into signing off on supporting the rally. The attackers were potentially trying to blame these groups for the rallies in an effort to further sow discord in the political landscape.

Facebook initially provided no comment about the description of the event, but then confirmed that it was originally created by the attackers’ since-deleted Page ‘Resisters’ which then later added several legitimate organizations as co-hosts: Millenials For Revolution, March To Confront White Supremacy – from Charlottesville to DC, Workers Against Racism – WAR, Smash Racism DC, and Tune Out Trump. Strangely, those co-hosts have relaunched a new event with a similar name “Nazis Not Welcome No Unite The Right 2” and similar description including a similar but expanded “Signed by” list, and now include BLM Charlottesville and D.C. as co-hosts.

Meanwhile, Facebook also shared an image of a November 4th, 2017 “Trump Nightmare Must End – NYC” event, also without details of the description. A scraped version on the site AllEvents shows the description as “History has shown that fascism must be stopped before it becomes too late. There is only one force that can stop this nightmare: we, the people, acting together. On November 4 we’ll take to the streets demanding that Trump regime must go! We meet at Times Square (42 St and Broadway) at 2 PM!”

The co-opting of left-wing messaging and protests is a powerful strategy for the election interferers. It could provide the right-wing with excuses to claim that all left-wing protest against Trump or white supremacy is actually foreign governments or hackers, and that those protests don’t represent the views of real Americans.

from Social – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/31/false-flag-events/
via Superb Summers

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See the trippy propaganda images attacking the midterms on Facebook

Facebook just confirmed that an unknown group is waging a propaganda war against the US midterm elections. Using images and event invites to rallies in Washington next week, the attackers are attempting to sow discord into the American political landscape. Facebook has not identified whether Russian intelligence organizations were responsible like with their 2016 election attacks, as this operation was more sophisticated than previous strategies Facebook has implemented safeguards to thwart. For now, Facebook has removed 32 pages and accounts associated with the group, including “Mindful Being,” and “Resisters”, some of which shared psychedelic memes in an attempt to ingratiate themselves with receptive users.

Last week I wrote that Facebook had dodged the question of whether it had evidence of attacks on the midterm elections. Now we have the answer: yes.

You can see a sample of the images used in the attacks below. For more info, read our full-story on these attacks on democracy.

from Social – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com/gallery/facebook-midterms/
via Superb Summers

Facebook has found evidence of influence campaigns targeting U.S. midterms

In a newsroom post Tuesday, Facebook revealed that it has detected evidence of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” designed to influence U.S. politics on its platform.

According to Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher, the company first identified the activity two weeks ago. So far, the activity encompasses eight Facebook Pages, 17 profiles and seven accounts on Instagram. Facebook stated that the activity “violate[s] our ban on coordinated inauthentic behavior” though so far is unable to attribute the activity to Russia or any other entity with an interest in influencing U.S. politics.

Facebook has been in contact with Congress and law enforcement about the discovery, which suggests that social platforms should expect to again detect the kind of coordinated disinformation campaigns targeted the 2016 election around U.S. midterm elections this November. The company stated that more than 290,000 accounts followed one of the Pages it identified. The Pages in question were created starting in March 2017 and most recently in May of 2018.

The most popular Pages displaying this kind of behavior were “Aztlan Warriors,” “Black Elevation,” “Mindful Being,” and “Resisters.” The other Pages had less than 10 followers each and the Instagram account did not have any followers. That does not necessarily discount other kinds of potential activity like commenting and messaging.

According to Facebook, “They ran about 150 ads for approximately $11,000 on Facebook and Instagram, paid for in US and Canadian dollars” between April 2017 and June of this year. The Pages also made around 30 Facebook events.

As Gleicher writes in the post, these accounts are operating more cautiously than the infamous Russian disinformation accounts around the 2016 election.

“For example they used VPNs and internet phone services, and paid third parties to run ads on their behalf. As we’ve told law enforcement and Congress, we still don’t have firm evidence to say with certainty who’s behind this effort. Some of the activity is consistent with what we saw from the IRA before and after the 2016 elections. And we’ve found evidence of some connections between these accounts and IRA accounts we disabled last year, which is covered below. But there are differences, too. For example, while IP addresses are easy to spoof, the IRA accounts we disabled last year sometimes used Russian IP addresses. We haven’t seen those here.”

from Social – TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com/2018/07/31/facebook-midterms-political-influence-campaigns/
via Superb Summers