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Facebook Accuses Russia of Spreading Disinformation

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Facebook said Russia and Iran are the internet’s leading spreaders of disinformation aimed at manipulating public opinion in a report published Thursday. 

Facebook researchers linked most of Russian operations to the Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg-based troll factory that was also blamed by the U.S. intelligence community for 2016 election interference. 

“Facebook’s broader security strategy against influence operations was developed in response to foreign interference by Russian actors in 2016,” the 2017-2020 Threat Report said. 

Researchers also found disinformation links to Russian military intelligence.

According to Facebook, Russian disinformation attacks were mostly focused on neighboring countries, and partly on the U.S. from operations in Mexico. 

Russia’s online disinformation attempts in the U.S. were mostly linked to the 2016 presidential elections, 2018 midterm congressional elections and the 2020 presidential elections, the report said. 

The Russian operation based in Mexico made posts on hot-topic social issues such as feminism, Hispanic identity and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

“We have not seen sufficient evidence to claim that this operation extends beyond individuals from Mexico, but in the public disclosure, the FBI attributed this activity to the Russian Internet Research Agency,” the report said.

The report's findings are based on previously published separate reports by Facebook researchers on disinformation campaigns that occurred between 2017 and 2020.

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