Facebook has announced the removal of 32 pages and accounts it suspects of sharing intentionally divisive political content on the platform, two years after Russian-backed content flooded the site in an attempt to influence the U.S. presidential election, and just months before the nation’s crucial 2018 midterm elections.

In a blog post, Facebook revealed it is aware of new “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on the site. It says the latest attempt to launder charged political messages on the platform is much more sophisticated than previous interference.

One fraudulent page, Resisters, posted content that was transparently anti-U.S. President Donald Trump. Another, Aztlan Warriors, shared posts and imagery of historical Native American figures and distinctly anti-colonial messaging.

Roughly 290,000 people followed one or more of the dodgy pages, and here’s the most troubling part: the pages created invites for 30 real-world events during their time on Facebook, meaning someone, somewhere, attempted to engage masses of Americans for their own political goals.

It’s unclear if anyone actually rocked up to one of those events. Facebook said that anyone found to have followed one of the fraudulent pages or events has been alerted.

While the platform has not confirmed this new raft of fake pages was operated by Russian operatives, it did say their broad pattern of behaviour matched the manoeuvres of the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency – the operation accused of injecting troubling content into Facebook before the 2016 election.

“We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this,” the platform announced, before offering this worrying little nugget:

“We face determined, well-funded adversaries who will never give up and are constantly changing tactics. It’s an arms race and we need to constantly improve too.”

Of course, all of this comes after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was dragged before U.S. Congress to explain exactly how the platform let foreign operatives influence hundreds of thousands of users with deliberately dodgy information, and what Facebook plans to do about it.

FWIW, Facebook’s market valuation recently nosedived in part to an admission that the cost of its new security measures will eat into profits. At the very least, those efforts have uncovered what appears to be yet another attempt to fuck around with American democracy itself.

Source: The Washington Post
Image: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images