Facebook announced that it had identified and blocked a misinformation campaign, which came from the Archimedes Group of Israel. Misinformation was about political issues.
Archimedes Group used Facebook to have contact with millions of people and influence public opinion. It had hundreds of pages and accounts, through which, it served its purposes.
Misinformation targeted specific African countries (Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia), Latin America and Southeast Asia. The people behind the misinformation campaign deceived their targets, representing the locals, and brought the debate to specific political events that they presented in the way they wanted to influence people.
Nathaniel Gleicher, head security on Facebook, said the platform removed 265 accounts on Facebook and Instagram, Facebook Pages, Groups and Events, as a coordinated non-authentic behavior was detected. He also said: "People behind this network have used false accounts to run Pages, spread their content and artificially increase engagement.
After discovery, Facebook blocked the Archimedes Group (and everything related to it) from all its platforms.
Facebook has released some information about the case:
- Archimedes Group had 65 accounts on Facebook, 161 Pages, 23 Groups, 12 events, and 4 accounts at Instagram.
- The above pages and accounts have had a great impact on the world. About 2,8 million accounts followed some of the Pages and 500 accounts participated in at least one of these Groups. Regarding 4 accounts at Instagram, about 920 people followed some of the accounts.
- The Archimedes Group had spent about 812.000 dollars on advertisements on Facebook. The first ad appeared in December of 2012. The last one took place in April of 2019, shortly before Facebook decided to block everything related to this company.
- For the past two years, the Archimedes Group had organized 9 events, the latest being scheduled for May of 2019. Several people (about 2.900) were interested in one or more of these events. The investigation made showed that some of the accounts that had shown interest were false. Also, it is not known if these events really happened.
The large amount of money (812.000 dollars) spent by Archimedes Group for Facebook ads shows the extent to which Facebook and all social networking platforms can help misinformation campaigns.
Facebook said Archimedes Group has repeatedly violated its platform policies, so it has decided to ban everything related to this company.