File picture: IANS
File picture: IANS

Facebook says it found no foreign interference campaigns targeting US protests

By Elizabeth Culliford Time of article published Jun 5, 2020

Share this article:

Facebook Inc said on Friday it had not seen evidence of coordinated foreign interference targeting the U.S. protests spurred by the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.

"We have been actively looking and we haven't yet seen foreign interference or domestic coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting these protests," said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, in a call with reporters.

"We want to caution people against jumping to conclusions without clear evidence of foreign interference."

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Thursday that foreign groups were using online disinformation campaigns like those mounted by Russia during the 2016 presidential election to widen divisions in U.S. society.

"Some of the foreign hackers and groups that are associated with foreign governments are focusing in on this particular situation we have here, and trying to exacerbate it in every way they can," he said.

Gleicher said Facebook had reached out to its government partners.

Twitter Inc declined on Friday to comment on Barr's statements. A Twitter spokesman said the company was taking proactive action on any coordinated attempts to disrupt the public conversation on the issue.

The death of Floyd, after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck while detaining him, has led to nationwide protests in the United States. 

 Facebook Inc is making it harder to find user groups associated with the term "Boogaloo," which refers to a potential U.S. civil war or the collapse of civilization, the company said on Thursday.

Facebook will no longer recommend such groups to members of similar associations, a spokeswoman for the world's largest social media network said.

At least two of three men charged on Wednesday with plotting violence at a Las Vegas anti-racism protest participated in Boogaloo groups on Facebook, according to an FBI criminal complaint.

A series of reports this year by researchers and media have drawn attention to the loose movement and its propagation on social media. In April, an advocacy group called the Tech Transparency Project warned that Boogaloo followers were discussing taking up arms while promoting protests to "liberate" states from coronavirus restrictions.

On May 1, Facebook banned the use of Boogaloo and related terms when they accompany pictures of weapons and calls to action, such as preparing for conflict.

The specific terms Facebook is was acting against are evolving, it said on Thursday. To evade the scrutiny, many have switched to terms such as "Big Igloo" or "Big Luau" while maintaining the same discussions about weaponry, future wars and conspiracy theories.


Share this article: