Facebook Purportedly Intruded by Russian Government Hackers before 2016 Election

Published Date : Sep 25, 2017

Facebook’s investigation into the use of the platform by Russia revealed that a hacking group linked to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), the military intelligence unit of the country, begun creating fake accounts in June 2016 to amplify stolen emails. During the election, these inauthentic Facebook accounts connected to Russia were able to purchase political ads worth a US$100,000 and spread fake news with the help of the platform. The GRU hacking group called Fancy Bear or APT28 had supposedly spread the stolen Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails late in 2015 via an account named Guccifer 2.0 and another called DCLeaks. Cybersecurity experts are also of the opinion that the hackers were responsible for the DNC hack.

Zuckerberg Examines Ways Presidential Campaigns Used Facebook Tools

Facebook had contacted the FBI to look into the matter. The company discovered that the fake accounts were not linked to any foreign government but financially motivated. However, CEO Mark Zuckerberg began to take the matter seriously again after former U.S. president Barack Obama implored him to do so. Aides to Obama and Hillary Clinton examined data and share with the Senate Intelligence Committee, following which vice-chair, Sen. Mark Warner flew to California to know what Facebook had learned after the French election in May.

Facebook is still in the dark about the extent of alleged ad purchases made by Russia, or whether the unidentified ad buys are still active on the site. This could be because of the use of the self-service tool capable of bypassing the company’s employees when purchasing ads. The company confirmed that anti-Hillary Clinton, anti-immigrant rallies were tried to be organized in Idaho and Texas by the Russia-linked groups which crossed the line beyond ad buys and memes.