PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Facebook says it’s uncovered “sophisticated attempts” to influence the upcoming midterm elections.
It believes Russia is possibly behind it again and is taking action.
A local communications expert has some advice for Facebook users.
“If you see a story, and it just doesn’t quite ring true or you’re like, maybe there’s something more? Just pause before you hit retweet, before you hit share,” said Chad Wertley, Robert Morris Communications Professor.
He says check with an established news source to see if a report is true.
“If it’s not being told there, not being told on your local news, maybe it’s not,” he said.
Facebook has detected a coordinated influence operation to target divisive political issues before the midterms. Thirty-two pages with names including “Black Elevation,” “Resisters,” and “Aztlan Warriors.”
They created more than 9,500 posts, and more than 290,000 accounts had followed at least one of the pages.
While Facebook appears to be cracking down on fake sites in general, Wertley believes CEO Mark Zuckerberg still wants to avoid regulating posts.
“He doesn’t think he’s a media company at all, and I think he wants it that way, because if he’s a media company he’s got to follow regulations,” said Wertley. “I think following those regulations would hurt his business model.”
However, Facebook has removed the pages trying to influence the midterms, and Homeland Security compares the situation to a looming storm.
“Today, I believe the next major attack is more likely to reach us online than on an airplane,” said Kirstjen Nielsen, DHS Secretary. “We are in crisis mode.”