Facebook, yesterday, announced that it had pulled down 134 Facebook and Instagram accounts, including 69 pages in Nigeria and Ghana that were linked to Russia.
Head of Security Policy at Facebook, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a statement issued yesterday that Facebook decided to pull down the accounts and pages for reason of foreign interference regarded as inauthentic behaviour that was coordinated from Russia.
According to the statement, “We removed 49 Facebook accounts, 69 Pages and 85 Instagram accounts for engaging in foreign interference, which is coordinated inauthentic behaviour on behalf of a foreign actor on Facebook, Instagram and other internet platforms. This network was in the early stages of building an audience and was operated by local nationals, some wittingly and some unwittingly in Ghana and Nigeria on behalf of individuals in Russia. It targeted primarily the United States.”
The statement further explained that the people behind the network engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts, some of which had already been disabled by the Facebook automated systems, to manage pages posing as non-government organisations or personal blogs, and post in Groups.
According to Gleicher, “We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We are taking down these pages and accounts because this activity was linked to individuals associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA) of Russia, an entity we had previously banned from Facebook. They also used fake accounts and coordinated with one another and to mislead people about what they were doing. That behaviour was the basis for our action, not the content they posted.”
The statement said: “They frequently posted about US news and attempted to grow their audience by focusing on topics like black history, black excellence and fashion, celebrity gossip, news and events related to famous Americans like historical figures and celebrities, and LGBTQ issues. This activity did not appear to focus on elections, or promote or denigrate political candidates. They also shared content about oppression and injustice, including police brutality.
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their purpose and coordination, our investigation found links to EBLA, an NGO in Ghana, and individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA).
“We detected this network as a result of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour ahead of US elections. The network was linked to the activity we had previously removed and attributed to the IRA in April 2018, July 2018 and November 2018. Our assessment benefited from our subsequent collaboration with a team of journalists at CNN. We have shared information with our industry peers, policy makers and law enforcement and will continue working with others to find and remove this kind of behaviour from our platform.”
The statement further said about 13,500 accounts followed one or more of these pages and around 265,000 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts, about 65 per cent of which were in the US. It added that less than $5 was spent on ads focused on people in the US, none of which were political or issue ads. Our systems repeatedly rejected attempts by this network to run issue or political ads in the US because the people behind it were not authorised to run political ads in the US. In total, we identified approximately $379 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram paid for in US dollars, the majority of which were run before this operation began by people who wittingly or unwittingly joined this network in the second half of 2019.
“We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we have said before, it is an ongoing challenge. We are committed to continually improving to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working more closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies,” the statement further said.
Culled from Thisday Newspaper
NIGERIA MOST PROSPEROUS BLACK NATION IN THE WORLD, PRESIDENT BUHARI DECLARES AT UNVEILING OF THEME, LOGO FOR 60TH ANNIVERSARY
Unveiling the theme and logo for the commemorative activities to celebrate 60 years of independence, President Muhammadu Buhari Wednesday in Abuja described Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, as the most prosperous black nation in the world.
Nigeria at 60 theme, TOGETHER, with the logo was projected and unveiled virtually on the 12 by 20 feet screen at the Council Chambers, before the commencement of the e-Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Buhari.
The President performed the exercise in the presence of some cabinet ministers and other members of the council who joined the meeting online.
”Today, we stand on the threshold of history as we formally begin a series of activities commemorating Nigeria’s Diamond Anniversary.
”The task history has saddled me with today is to proclaim a theme that will keep us united, help us forge ahead and unveil a logo that will form the critical pillars which our 11-month modest commemorative activities would rest on.
”Celebrating sixty years of independence really calls for pomp, but the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced all nations in the world to think and act differently, has also foisted on us the imperative of a low-keyed celebration.
”Operating within the limitations placed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we created an internet challenge for Nigerians to make a choice from a set of four pre-selected logos that would appropriately define the theme.
”Of these four options, Nigerians from all walks of life participated in making a choice and I am happy to let you know that the logo I would be unveiling is a product of choice from the Nigerian people,” President Buhari said.
Speaking further on the logo, the President declared:
”The selected option depicts our togetherness, a country of over 200 million people whose natural talent, grit and passion glitter like the precious DIAMOND we are.
”This, to me, is a special appreciation to our most precious asset – our people. Everywhere you go, Nigerians are sparkling like diamonds in the pack, whether in academia, business, innovation, music, movie, entertainment, fashion and culture.
”Furthermore, the neatly encrusted Diamond on the Nigerian Map symbolizes our age of treasure, the worth of the Nigerian people with our sparkle to the admiration of the world.
‘‘In the same vein, the pear green and dark green colours should respectively remind us of our warmth, welcoming spirit and love as well as the abundant wealth inherent in our human capital and the richness of our land.
‘‘All these properties make us unarguably the most prosperous black nation in the world and Africa’s largest economy.’’
On the theme of TOGETHER, President Buhari recounted that the country’s founding fathers, in spite of the differences in faith, tribe and tongue came together to fight for Nigeria’s independence.
‘‘This shall be a befitting tribute to the struggles of our heroes past,’’ he said.
The President thanked members of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Nigeria’s Sixtieth Anniversary Celebration for the work they have done so far, reminding them ‘‘that this is just the beginning.’’
President Buhari pledged that his government would work towards greater inclusiveness and look forward to the participation of all Nigerians in the celebration.
Special Adviser to the President
(Media & Publicity)
September 16, 2020
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