Facebook Removes Fake Left-Wing News Publication Created by Russian Trolls

Russian meddling in U.S. elections is well underway. A ploy to sow doubt and disinformation on Biden and Harris was detected and taken down.

What Happened:

An infamous Russian troll factory, known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA), created a sham news outlet—PeaceDatato attract a left-wing audience and dissuade them from voting for Biden. 

On September 1st, Facebook announced it took down two pages and 13 accounts associated with PeaceData.

The majority of articles were pulled from existing publications, but the IRA also hired unknowing freelance writers to create content. Fake editors responsible for recruitment had AI-generated photos with thorough Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to match. 

PeaceData had only accumulated 14,000 followers across its English and Arabic pages when it was removed, meaning it was less effective than previous IRA campaigns

Why it Matters:

Election Interference

Though PeaceData was taken down before gaining much traction, it is just one example of a broader initiative by IRA and Russian actors to instill doubt in American democracy and the election process. 

Ahead of the 2016 election, the IRA used its multi million-dollar budget to employ a team of deep fake and disinformation specialists and send operatives to the U.S. to influence on-the-ground political activists. 

This news raises concerns about the Director of National Intelligence’s decision to cancel in-person election security briefings

The Power of AI

Graphika, a social media analytics firm, was able to quickly identify deepfake images used by PeaceData. However, this was the first known attempt by the Russian propaganda group to utilize AI-generated avatars. Given their funding and dedicated team, future actions could be more sophisticated and harder to detect.