In the lead up to the 2018 midterm election, a Facebook employee removed suspicious Utah-related posts originating from an ad farm in Bangladesh, according to a report published Friday by Bloomberg.
The Utah incident was one example offered by the social media giant as part of a presentation in Paris, and reviewed by Bloomberg, to demonstrate the company’s beefed up response to political misinformation campaigns following the revelation of Russian meddling in 2016.
“The presentation details how Facebook has come to understand how networks of impostor accounts use the social network to amplify divisive ideas on immigration, guns and race relations,” wrote Bloomberg’s Sarah Frier.
According to the report, Facebook representatives hope to demonstrate their tools and preparation to root out meddling ahead of elections in several countries this year as well as next year’s U.S. presidential race.
But questions remain, Frier wrote, regarding the social media company’s ability to move beyond the tactics used in 2016 to anticipate new approaches to political disruption.
“Researchers have already tracked the migration of fake news to Facebook’s groups, for example, and to encrypted messaging," Frier wrote, "where not even Facebook can see what users are saying to each other."
Roughly one month before the 2018 midterm, Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox — who oversees elections in the state — said Utah’s government systems face “hundreds of millions” of cyber attacks each day. And those attacks were likely to intensify, he said, because of the candidacy of now-Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, an occasional critic of President Donald Trump who had previously run for president himself as the Republican Party nominee.
“We knew that alone might make us more of a target,” Cox said at the time.
Following the election, Cox expressed complete confidence in the accuracy of the state’s vote count.
The Bloomberg report says the ad farm in Bangladesh appeared to target a congressional campaign in Utah, but didn’t name which one, nor did it explain the topics of the posts.