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Russians Again Targeting Americans With Disinformation, Facebook Says

The Russian group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election is at it again, using a network of fake accounts and a website set up to look like a left-wing news site, Facebook said on Tuesday.

The disinformation campaign by the group, known as the Internet Research Agency, is the first public evidence that the agency is attempting to repeat its efforts from four years ago and push voters away from the Democratic presidential candidate.

Intelligence agencies have warned for months that Russia and other countries were actively trying to disrupt the November election, and social media companies remain a clear target for their meddling. Facebook said it was warned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the Russian effort.

ImageAn example of a Facebook post by the fake news site PeaceData. The Russian group Internet Research Agency hired Americans to write for the site.

While the fake network and site did not reach as big of an audience as the group’s campaigns in 2016, it came with a new wrinkle: The Russians hired real Americans to write for the website. The fake site, called PeaceData, also used personas with computer-generated images to create what looked like a legitimate news organization.

“The Russians are trying harder to hide; they are increasingly putting up more and more layers of obfuscation,” said Ben Nimmo, whose firm, Graphika, released a report on the fake site. “But they are still getting caught.”

This is a developing story.