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Facebook Combats Coordinated Campaigns to Misinform the Public

Fraudsters spreading falsehood on social media are getting more sophisticated. Facebook Inc. says it's rising to the challenge.

The owner of the world's most used social network is taking aim at organizations that launch coordinated campaigns to sway political opinion and spread lies by way of fake accounts.

As Facebook's network grows and becomes a forum for political debate, some organizations have been taking advantage maliciously, including during the elections in the U.S. and France, the company said in a white paper posted Thursday by its top security executives. Facebook says it has a responsibility to act when users are being manipulated, through a new category of attack it calls ``information operations.''

``We've had to expand our security focus from traditional abusive behavior, such as account hacking, malware, spam and financial scams, to include more subtle and insidious forms of misuse,'' the company said, ``including attempts to manipulate civic discourse and deceive people.''

Organizations seeking to sway public opinion tailor their techniques to Facebook's requirement that people use real identities. Some of the bad actors create accounts using the names and photos of real people and then send friend requests to a person's actual network, the company said. Others are stealing passwords or personal information to take over authentic accounts.