Facebook’s IO Threat Report

According to Facebook’s recent Threat Report on the State of Influence Operations (IO), from 2017 through mid 2021, they took down at least 150 covert influence operations for violations against their Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) policies.  These “coordinated efforts to manipulate or corrupt public
debate for a strategic goal” originated in over 50 countries around the world, but the top sources were from the US, Iran, and Russia.

This threat report provides background information explaining IO challenges, discusses actors and recent trends, highlights the targeted campaigns ahead of the US 2020 Elections, shares a data table identifying each CIB ‘takedown’, and discusses Facebook’s views regarding the way forward on countering IO threats.

Facebook’s security team expects to see the following IO trends over the next few months and years:

  • IO moving into grayer spaces

As threat actors evade enforcement by co-opting witting and unwitting people to blur the lines between authentic domestic discourse and manipulation, it will get harder to discern what is and isn’t part of a deceptive influence campaign. Going forward, as more domestic campaigns push the boundaries of enforcement across platforms, we should expect policy calls to get harder.

  • Increased actor diversity  

While state-run operations will continue to persist, it’s important to remain open and flexible in our detection and response efforts because we know that not all IO is state-sponsored. More domestic, non-state, commercial actors are using the same tactics to influence public debate in their strategic interests

  • “Weaponization” of uncertainty

We expect to see IO actors continue to attempt to weaponize moments of uncertainty, elevate conflicting voices and drive division around the world, including around major crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, critical elections, and civic protests

For more information on topics related to this piece, check out the  HSDL Featured Topics Collections on Disinformation and Cyber Crime & National Security or past Facebook reports housed in our collection.

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