Left Menu
Development News Edition

Facebook campaign with millions of followers busted for meddling in elections

Devdiscourse News Desk | Jerusalem | Updated: 16-05-2019 21:08 IST | Created: 16-05-2019 20:08 IST
Facebook campaign with millions of followers busted for meddling in elections
Gleicher said Facebook could not speculate about Archimedes' motives, which "may be commercial or political." Image Credit: Flickr

Facebook said Thursday it banned an Israeli company that ran an influence campaign aimed at disrupting elections in various countries and has cancelled dozens of accounts engaged in spreading disinformation. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, told reporters that the tech giant had purged 65 Israeli accounts, 161 pages, dozens of groups and four Instagram accounts. Many were linked to the Archimedes Group, a Tel Aviv-based political consulting and lobbying firm that boasts of its social media skills and ability to "change reality."

Gleicher said Facebook could not speculate about Archimedes' motives, which "may be commercial or political." But he said Facebook discovered "coordinated inauthentic behaviour," with accounts posing as certain political candidates, smearing opponents and presenting as local news organizations peddling supposedly leaked information. The activity appeared focused on Sub-Saharan African countries but was also scattered in parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America. The pages have racked up 2.8 million followers and hundreds of thousands of views.

Gleicher said Archimedes had spent some USD 800,000 on fake ads and that its deceptive activity dated back to 2012. He said Facebook has banned Archimedes. Facebook has come under pressure to more aggressively and transparently tackle misinformation aimed at sowing division and confusion around elections, since the revelation that Russia used Facebook to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

On its website, Archimedes presents itself as a consulting firm involved in campaigns for presidential elections. Little information is available beyond its slogan, which is "winning campaigns worldwide," and a vague blurb about the group's "mass social media management" software, which it said enabled the operation of an "unlimited" number of online accounts.

The site, featuring a montage of stock photos from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, boasts of its "own unique field within the social media realm" and its efforts to "take every advantage available in order to change reality according to our client's wishes." A message seeking comment from the company was not immediately returned. Archimedes' chief executive is Elinadav Heymann, according to Swiss negotiations consultancy Negotiations.CH, where he is listed as one of the group's consultants.

A biography posted to the company's website describes him as the former director of the Brussels-based European Friends of Israel lobbying group, a former political adviser in Israel's parliament and an ex-intelligence agent for the Israeli air force. Messages left with Heymann through Negotions.CH were not immediately returned.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Rethinking Rural Livelihoods in the Times of COVID-19

The reverse migration caused by COVID 19 pandemic has put an additional burden of about one crore people on Indian villages particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal and Odisha. Besides increasing the risk of spreading the ...

‘Discounted Deaths’ and COVID 19: Anthropology of Death and Emotions

Death is a social event rather than the mere cessation of biological functions. As seen by anthropologists, death is not just physical but intensely social, cultural, and political....

Indigenous knowledge of communities a must for maximizing impact of community work

Generally, it has been observed that the majority of the academicians in higher education institutions neglect the wisdom of community people and throw their weight around thinking that they know everything and the community knows nothing. ...

In rebuking FBR, Pakistan’s courts take a stand for public health

The system, if implemented effectively, will allow Pakistans revenue service to combat the illicit trade in tobacco products and potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to the states budget each year. ...

Videos

Latest News

U.S. CDC reports total of 1,761,503 coronavirus cases, 103,700 deaths

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC on Sunday reported a total 1,761,503 cases of the new coronavirus, an increase of 23,553 cases from its previous count, and said that the number of deaths had risen by 915 to 103,700.T...

Long-haul carrier Emirates says it fires staff amid virus

Dubais long-haul carrier Emirates said Sunday it fired an undisclosed number of employees as the coronavirus pandemic has halted global aviation, becoming the latest Mideast airline to shed staff over the outbreak. Emirates, the jewel of th...

SpaceX Crew Dragon delivers two NASA astronauts to International Space Station

Nearly 24 hours after launching from Florida, SpaceXs Crew Dragon capsule delivered NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station on Sunday, marking the first U.S. space capsule to do so with a crew since 20...

Militants in Burkina Faso kill 35 in separate attacks, govt says

Militants in Burkina Faso attacked a cattle market and a humanitarian convoy, killing at least 35 people, the government said on Sunday.Saturdays violence underscores deep instability in parts of Burkina Faso, which has been battling armed ...

Give Feedback