Brian T. Lynch, MSW
One aspect of this included malicious actors leveraging conventional and social media to share information stolen from other sources, such as email accounts, with the intent of harming the reputation of specific political targets. These incidents employed a relatively straightforward yet
deliberate series of actions:
• Private and/or proprietary information was accessed and stolen from systems and services (outside of Facebook);
• Dedicated sites hosting this data were registered;
• Fake personas were created on Facebook and elsewhere to point to and amplify awareness of this data;
• Social media accounts and pages were created to amplify news accounts of and direct people to the stolen data.
• From there, organic proliferation of the messaging and data through authentic peer groups and networks was inevitable.
Concurrently, a separate set of malicious actors engaged in false amplification using inauthentic Facebook accounts to push narratives and themes that reinforced or expanded on some of the topics exposed from stolen data. Facebook conducted research into overall civic engagement during this time on the platform, and determined that the reach of the content shared by false amplifiers was marginal compared to the overall volume of civic content shared during the US election.