Facebook on Thursday said it shut down 251 accounts for breaking rules against spam and coordinated deceit, some of it by ad farms pretending to be forums for political debate.
The move came as the leading social network strives to prevent the platform from being used to sow division and spread misinformation ahead of United States (US) elections in November.
Facebook removed 559 pages and 251 accounts that consistently violated rules against spam and “coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” according to an online post by Cybersecurity Policy Chief, Nathaniel Gleicher, and Product Manager, Oscar Rodriguez.
“Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of groups and pages to drive traffic to their websites,” they said.
“Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was.”
Other pages and accounts shut down were “ad farms” using Facebook to trick people into thinking they were fora for legitimate political debate, according to Gleicher and Rodriguez.
Facebook is getting a “war room” up and running on its Silicon Valley campus to quickly repel efforts to use the social network to meddle in upcoming elections in the US and Brazil.
Teams at Facebook have been honing responses to potential scenarios such as floods of bogus news or campaigns to trick people into falsely thinking they can cast ballots by text message, according to executives.
Facebook is keen to prevent the kinds of voter manipulation or outright deception that took place ahead of the 2016 election the brought US President Donald Trump to office.
Facebook is better prepared to defend against efforts to manipulate the platform to influence elections and has recently thwarted foreign influence campaigns targeting several countries, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said recently in a post on the social network.
Facebook has started showing who is behind election-related online ads, and have shut down accounts involved in coordinated stealth influence campaigns.
With the help of artificial intelligence software, Facebook blocked nearly 1.3 billion fake accounts between March and October of last year, according to the social network.
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Pope Urges Calm In Protest-Hit Ecuador
Pope Francis on Sunday called on all sides to refrain from violence in Ecuador, which has been rocked by nationwide protests against rising fuel and living costs.
“I am following with concern what is happening in Ecuador,” the Argentine pontiff said after his weekly Sunday Angelus prayer at the Vatican.
“I encourage all parties to abandon violence and extreme positions. Let us learn — only through dialogue can social peace be found, I hope soon.”
The 85-year-old urged particular attention to be paid to “the marginalised populations and the poorest, but always respecting the rights of all, and the institutions of the country”.
Ecuador’s National Assembly is due to vote on whether to oust President Guillermo Lasso over the protests that have left five people dead and dozens injured in 13 days of revolt.
Pope Francis also highlighted the death of sister Luisa Dell’Orto, an Italian missionary who he said was killed on Saturday in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince.
“Sister Lucia (Luisa) lived there for 20 years, dedicated above all to the service of street children,” he said.
“I entrust her soul to God and pray for the Haitian people, especially for the youngest, so they may have a more peaceful future without misery, and without violence.
“Sister Lucia made her life a gift for others, to the point of martyrdom.”
Finally, the pope urged those listening not to forget the war in Ukraine.
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War: Ukraine Will Be Coerced To Make ‘Bad Peace’ With Russia – UK
The United Kingdom has expressed fears that Ukraine will be coerced to make a ‘bad peace’ with Russia.
The UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said Ukraine could face pressure to agree to a peace deal with Russia over the global food crisis.
According to him, Volodymyr Zelensky’s side will enter a peace deal that will not be in the interests of his country as a result of the economic consequences of the ongoing war in Europe.
The British Prime Minister is in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, with leaders of Commonwealth nations for a summit
He told reporters, according to BBC, that “Too many countries are saying this is a European war that is unnecessary … and so the pressure will grow to encourage, coerce, maybe, the Ukrainians to a bad peace.”
The UK Prime Minister then warned that there would be consequences if Russian President Vladimir Putin has his way in Ukraine.
Johnson noted that this would be dangerous to international security and “a long-term economic disaster”.
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Obama Rues U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision To Overturn Roe v Wade Abortion Rights
Former American President Barrack Obama says the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade abortion rights ruling “reverses 50 years precedent, attacking the essential freedoms of Americans.”
“Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans,” Mr Obama said in a tweet.
On Friday, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), a U.S. Supreme Court judgment that ruled that United States Constitution protects pregnant women’ liberty to decide to have an abortion.
Justice Samuel Alito on Friday wrote the majority opinion that tossed out the case. Mr Alito was joined by the five other conservatives on the high court, including Chief Justice John Roberts.
“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the opinion said.
The case was met with a 6-3 decision, with the court’s three liberal justices filing a dissenting opinion to the ruling.
The decision has been widely anticipated after a draft of the ruling was exclusively reported by Politico in May.
Following the leak, Oklahoma passed a near-total ban on all abortions, starting “at fertilization” pending the signature of Republican Governor Kevin Stitt, it would be the most restrictive abortion ban in the U.S.
President Joe Biden had urged Congress to pass legislation codifying Roe v. Wade, saying a woman’s right to have an abortion is “fundamental.”
“If the court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Mr Biden said in May.
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