FILE – In this June 4, 2012 file photo, a girl looks at Facebook on her computer in Palo Alto, Calif. Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who purchased ads in an attempt to influence the AMERICAN presidential campaign, Facebook told the National Association of Secretaries of State on Saturday, feb. 17, 2018, that the company would send postcards to potential buyers of political ads to confirm they live in the US. the plan was unveiled a day after the special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians with interfering in the presidential elections. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
MENLO PARK, California. (Novum / AP) — Facebook will soon rely on centuries old technology to try to prevent foreign intervention in the AMERICAN elections: the post office.
Baffled in 2016 by Russian agents who bought ads to sway the AMERICAN presidential campaign, Facebook global politics and government outreach manager, Katie Harbath, told a meeting of the National Association of Secretaries of State in Washington on Saturday that the company would send postcards to potential buyers of political ads to confirm they live in the US
The recipient would then have to enter a code on Facebook to continue the purchase of the ad. The method will first apply to ads that name candidates ahead of the midterm elections in November, said Facebook spokesman Andy Stone.
The plan was unveiled a day after the special counsel Robert Mueller charged 13 Russians with interfering in the presidential elections. Mueller’s complaint is described how the Russian agents the stolen social security numbers and other data of a real american and used them for the bank and PayPal accounts in order to buy online ads. Agents also recruited Americans to do things, such as holding signs at rallies organized to create content for the Russian-made social media posts.
Facebook discovered a number of 3,000 Russian-linked ads on Facebook and Instagram bought for and after the November 2016 election, which it says can be seen by a whopping 150 million users. But ads are only part of the problem, such as the Müller-elektronik gmbh & indictments say that the Russian agents are also fake pages with names such as “Secure Borders,” “Blacktivist” and “United Muslims of America” that had hundreds of thousands of followers.
Facebook doesn’t say how the new postcard method of authentication would prevent foreign agents from setting up local addresses, and hire people in the US to check them. But Stone said the method was “a small part of a much larger effort to address foreign electoral influence on our platform.”
Facebook’s efforts are largely centre around the verify of the people on the platform are who they say they are. To catch unreliable ad-buyers, for example, is now testing in Canada, a system that allows people to see which ads are bought by a Facebook page — let us say, a candidate — even if the person the check of the ad is not in the group to whom the ad was intended to be shown.
Stone said Facebook was also able to detect and remove “tens of thousands” of fake Facebook pages in advance of the French, German and British elections of last year with the help of improved machine learning techniques.
The company said that it would be a doubling of the number of people working on the safety and security team 20,000 of this year, and adding 1,000 people to the review of the advertising content.