Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman, said in a statement that the company “was already investigating these topics” at the time of Allen’s report. “Since then, we have represented groups, developed new policies and partnered with industry partners to tackle networks.
A closer look at the issue before it was published, MIT Technology Review found that the five farm pages mentioned in the report remained active.
The report found that troll farms are reaching the same groups selected by the Kremlin-backed Internet Research Agency (IRA) during the 2016 elections, which have largely robbed Christians, black Americans, and Americans. 2018 BuzzFeed News Search found that one Russian IRA member, who is accused of rigging elections in 2016 US, also traveled to Macedonia when his first fields were vacated, although he found no convincing evidence to link them. (Facebook said its investigation did not lead to a link between IRA and Macedonian farms, either.)
“This is not unusual. This is not good, ”said Allen. “We have empowered the actors to concentrate on the unknown … The fact that actors who are able to connect with the IRA have a chance to gain a large audience in the same groups that the IRA is most vulnerable to in the US 2020 election.”
As long as the troll farms get better with this strategy, any bad player will also be able to, he added: many. ”
Allen wrote the report as the fourth and final part of a year-and-a-half-year effort to understand troll farms. He left the company the same month, among other things, out of frustration that management had “neglected” his investigation, according to a former Facebook employee who submitted the report. Allen declined to comment.
The report reveals a dire situation as Facebook’s leadership has been off the platform for years, despite repeated promises to address external threats. MIT Technology Review provides a full report, staff names have been changed, as it is a public service.
His revelations include:
- As of October 2019, nearly 15,000 Facebook pages with the largest U.S. audience were driven to Kosovo and Macedonia, the leading actors in the 2016 election.
- Together, the plant pages — which the report considers a single page in comparison — reach 140 million U.S. users per month and 360 million worldwide each week. Walmart site reached the second largest group in the US at 100 million.
- Troll access pages are also included to make:
- Christian American’s largest Facebook page, 20 times larger than the next big one – up to 75 million US users a month, 95% of whom have never followed these pages.
- The largest African-American page on Facebook, three times larger than the next big one – up to 30 million U.S. users a month, 85% of whom had never followed any pages.
- The second largest Native American site on Facebook, reaching 400,000 users each month, 90% of them had never followed any pages.
- The fifth largest women’s page on Facebook, reaching 60 million US users a month, 90% of whom had never followed these pages.
- Troll fields have a significant impact on the US and are concentrated in the UK, Australia, India, and Central and South American countries.
- Facebook has done a lot of research to prove that what it has to offer users (likes, comments, and shares) is likely to be a brand that is known to be bad. However, the company continued to rank users’ content based on what was most helpful.
- Facebook prohibits websites from sending content that is simply copied and posted on other sites on the platform but does not comply with this rule against known perpetrators. This allows foreign audiences that do not speak the local language to send all downloads and reach a wider audience. In one case, about 40% of the pages viewed in U.S. pages went to those with limited or no initials.
- Troll Fields has already joined Facebook’s Instant Articles and Ad Breaks Facebook programs, which were designed to help media organizations and other publishers make money from their blogs and videos. In one case, due to a lack of preliminary checks, about 60% of the Instant Article read what was written from elsewhere. This led to the troll farms becoming more and more anonymous, as well as receiving money from Facebook.
How Facebook supports troll fields and grows their audience
The report focuses on troll farms in Kosovo and Macedonia, which are run by people who do not understand American politics. However, due to the nature of Facebook’s prize money, it can also make sense in political debates.