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Facebook Busts, Close Pages Of Israeli Firm Used To Sway, Public Opinions, Elections In Nigeria, Africa, Others

Deletes 265 fake accounts targeting Nigeria, others

Senator Iroegbu and Godsgift Onyedinefu with Agency 

Facebook has busted an Isreali-led campaign to sway elections in Nigeria as well as targeted countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The social  media giant on Thursday said it had removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, groups and events linked to an Israel-based firm due to what it called “inauthentic behaviour” targeting users in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The move is part of wider efforts by Facebook to address concerns over privacy lapses and hate speech in social media.

Facebook said the “inauthentic” activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia as well as in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

“The people behind this network used fake accounts to run pages, disseminate their content and artificially increase engagement,” Nathaniel , head of cyber security policy at Facebook said in a statement.

He identified Israel’s Archimedes Group as the source of some of the activity.

“This organisation and all its subsidiaries are now banned from Facebook, and it has been issued a cease and desist letter,” said Gleicher.

Archimedes was not immediately available for comment

Gleicher said Archimedes had 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 12 events and four Instagram accounts. Some 2.8 million accounts followed one or more of these pages.

Read also: https://therepublicannews.net/2019/05/18/frank-timi-commends-facebook-us-firm-for-exposing-buharis-fake-news-israeli-political-consultant-firm/

He said that the individuals involved also represented themselves as locals, including local news organisations, and published allegedly leaked information about politicians.

“The page administrators and account owners frequently posted about political news, including topics like elections in various countries, candidate views and criticism of political opponents,” Gleicher said.

“We’re taking down these pages and accounts based on their behaviour, not the content they posted.”

He added that around 812,000 dollars was spent for advertisements on Facebook paid for in Brazilian reals, Israeli shekels and US dollars with the first ad running in 2013 2012 and the most recent last month, Gleicher said.

“We have shared information about our analysis with industry partners and policymakers,” he said.

Similarly, Amnesty International on Thursday called for Israel’s government to ensure that an Israeli company, whose spyware has been linked to a WhatsApp breach that may have targeted human rights groups, be held accountable for the way its software is used.

Amnesty on Tuesday filed a petition in Israel seeking the revocation of NSO Group’s export licence and said that it was up to the government to take a firmer stance against export licenses that have “resulted in human rights abuses.”

Israel’s Ministry of Defence declined to comment.

WhatsApp, a unit of Facebook, said on Tuesday that a security breach on its messaging app may have targeted human rights groups.

According to Eva Galperin, Director of cybersecurity at San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, WhatsApp told human rights groups it believed the spyware used was developed by Israel’s NSO.

A second person familiar with the matter also identified spyware from NSO.

Amnesty said in an emailed statement that NSO has “again and again demonstrated their intent to avoid responsibility for the way their software is used,” and that only government intervention would change that.

NSO has not commented on any specific attacks, but following the WhatsApp breach it said it would investigate any “credible allegations of misuse” of its technology which “is solely operated by intelligence and law enforcement agencies”.

NSO’s biggest shareholder, Novalpina Capital, said in a statement that it intends to bring NSO’s governance into alignment with UN principles and will seek insights from Amnesty and other groups “into how best to achieve this important goal.”

WhatsApp, one of the world’s most popular messaging tools which are used by 1.5 billion people monthly, said it had notified the U.S. Department of Justice to help with an investigation into the breach.

And it encouraged its users to update to the latest version of the app, where the breach had been fixed.

One target of the new WhatsApp exploit was a United Kingdom-based human rights lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The United Kingdom-based human rights lawyer is helping a Saudi dissident and several Mexican journalists mount civil cases against NSO for its alleged role in selling hacking tools to the Saudi and Mexican governments, which they alleged were used to hack into their phones.

NSO says it sells only to law enforcement and intelligence agencies pursuing legitimate targets, such as terrorists and criminals.

Novalpina, in a May 15 letter to Amnesty signed by founding partner Stephen Peel, said Novalpina was “determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure that NSO technology is used for the purpose for which it is intended.

“The prevention of harm to fundamental human rights arising from terrorism and serious crime – and not abused in a manner that undermines other equally fundamental human rights.”

Credits| Reuters, NAN

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Frank Timi Commends, Facebook, US. Firm For Exposing Buhari’s Fake News Israeli Political Consultant Firm

Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar

by Ike A. Offor

Timi Frank, the former deputy national publicity secretary of All Progressive Congress, APC, and a political activist has publicly expressed his strong commendations for Facebook and the United States firm which exposed the Israeli disinformation company that has helped Buhari and APC to spread false and damaging news against the opposition party’s presidential candidate and the opposition party, PDP. Facebook has announced the closure of the Facebook page of the Israeli consultant company that has used its website and page to spread false news prior and after the 2019 presidential election. These fake news were used to sway the opinion of the Nigerian electorates, and helped to damage the image of Atiku Abubakar. Facebook said that it is doing more now to stop spread of fake news on its platform.

Facebook busted an Isreali-led campaign to sway elections in Nigeria as well as targeted countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The social  media giant on Thursday said it had removed 265 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages, groups and events linked to an Israel-based firm due to what it called “inauthentic behaviour” targeting users in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The move is part of wider efforts by Facebook to address concerns over privacy lapses and hate speech in social media.

Facebook said the “inauthentic” activity originated in Israel and focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia as well as in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Below is the press statement from Mr Timi Frank:

Press Release

A political activist and former Deputy National Publicuty Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, has commended a report released by a U.S.-based firm, Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, for exposing an Isreali-based political consulting and lobbying firm named Archimedes, who has been coordinating false reports on social media against former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

According to a news report published on Friday by Associated Press (AP), titled: “Isreali disinformation campaign targeted Nigerian election”, Frank said that Facebook had on Thursday banned Archimedes from the platform over its “coordinated and deceptive behavior” as well as conducted a sweeping takedown of dozens of accounts and hundreds of pages primarily aimed at disrupting elections in African countries, with some scattered activity in Southeast Asia and Latin America.

The report specifically revealed that the Isreali-based firm (Archimedes) worked for President Muhammadu Buhari to smear his leading opponent, Atiku Abubakar during the last general elections.

Reacting to the development through a statement on Saturday, Frank said that the world will gradually know all the evil secret behind the declaration of Gen. Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the last presidential election.

According to Frank, one of the pages that Facebook deleted on Thursday was filled with viral misinformation and direct attacks against Abubakar, the former vice president of Nigeria. The page’s banner image showed Abubakar as Darth Vader, the Star Wars villain, holding up a sign reading, “Make Nigeria Worse Again.”

He also quoted the AP’s report “that on the overall, the misleading accounts had reached some 2.8 million users, and the pages had engaged over 5,000 followers, according to Facebook’s estimates.”

While thanking Facebook for bringing down the fake accounts, Frank said that “Nigerians ought to be worried about how the APC-led government is spending huge amount of money just to discredit the rightful winner of the 2019 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar.

“I believe that if a lie goes on for 20 years, truth will definitely catchup with it one day. It will not be long before Nigerians will realise how desperate and fake President Muhammadu Buhari is in his bid to hang onto power.”

The political activist called on the international community to note the Associated Press’ report and the extent of damage done to the main opposition party in Nigeria and its Presidential candidate during the last general election.

“The AP’s report has clearly shown the level of lies sponsored against Atiku during and after the last general election. The campaign of calumny has not stopped but Nigerians should henceforth disregard malicious reports in the social media against the former VP,” Frank stated

Signed

Comrade Timi Frank
Political Activist
18/05/2019.

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