Online Information Operations Cross Platforms. Tech Companies' Responses Should Too.
In March, Facebook took down more than 2,600 pages, groups and accounts engaged in sweeping coordinated information operations on its platforms—an important step in the platform’s effort to prevent malign actors from spreading content designed to polarize and mislead. However, when our team at the Alliance for Securing Democracy took a close look at the small number of blocked pages and groups about which Facebook and its partner, the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DRFLab), shared information, we found that related accounts on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram continue to operate, spreading falsehoods. Despite the promises of better communication and reform, there is a concerning lack of coordination between Facebook and its peers.
Online information operations have emerged as a key tactic in the toolkit employed by malign foreign actors to interfere in democracies. As Special Counsel Mueller’s reporthighlighted, malign foreign actors have used social media platforms to spread divisive content as part of a broader campaign to undermine democratic institutions. Our organization investigates these efforts and develops comprehensive solutions for government, private sector, and civil society to counter and deter foreign interference. After Facebook announced its takedown of inauthentic networks a few weeks ago, our research team took a close look at each of the accounts and pages that were publicly identified by Facebook and its partners.