Meta has detailed takedowns of what it described as six ‘adversarial networks’ from across the world that were using Facebook for behaviour including spreading false information, harassment and trying to have genuine information taken down.
It said the groups violated its rules around Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior and two new policies: Brigading and Mass Reporting.
Facebook defines Brigading as networks of people work who together to mass comment, mass post or engage in other types of repetitive mass behaviors to harass others or silence them. Mass Reporting is when people work together to mass-report an account or content to get it incorrectly taken down by Facebook.
Meta said it had removed a network in Italy and France for Brigading: “We removed a network of accounts that originated in Italy and France and targeted medical professionals, journalists, and elected officials with mass harassment,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta’s Head of Security Policy in its Adversarial Threat Report. “Our investigation linked this activity to an anti-vaccination conspiracy movement.”
In Vietnam, Meta targeted networks attempting to use mass reporting, via duplicated but legitimate accounts, to have accurate news reports criticizing the government taken down.
“The network coordinated to falsely report activists and other people who publicly criticized the Vietnamese government for various violations in an attempt to have these users removed from Facebook,” explained Gleicher.
Meta also removed four networks from Palestine, Poland, Belarus, and China for violating its policy on Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior: each of these networks targeted people in multiple countries at once.
The report also notes the shifting environment Facebook faces, what it deems to be a security threat, and how it responds to them.
“In this environment, we build our defenses with the expectation that adversarial groups will not stop, but rather adapt and try new tactics to persist,” wrote Gliecher with other Meta security leads.
“Our focus has been to study malicious behaviors and add new layers of defense to our arsenal to make sure we prevent and address potential gaps from multiple angles. Our goal over time is to make these behaviors more costly and difficult to hide, and less effective. It is a significant, ongoing effort that spans teams, departments and time zones across Meta.”
Facebook has in the past been criticized for its slow response to groups using its platform to spread disinformation. This report follows claims by a former employee about the negative impact of Instagram on the wellbeing of some young users.
Meta says it will share its findings with industry peers, independent researchers, law enforcement agencies, and policymakers.