An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Steve Bannon has been outed for his involvement in running a network of misinformation pages on Facebook. Who could have possibly seen this coming. Facebook has talked a big game about monitoring election misinformation, and yet the independent activist network Avaaz said it had to alert the company to the pages before it removed them for coordinated inauthentic behavior. The group didn’t need an army of 35,000 moderators to figure this out, and yet Facebook consistently fails to spot the troublemakers that journalists and researchers with less funding and staff seem to keep spotting. As they say: makes you think. Avaaz said that it alerted Facebook to the pages on Friday night. By that time, in aggregate, Avaaz says the top seven pages — Brian Kolfage, Conservative Values, The Undefeated, We Build the Wall Inc, Citizens of the American Republic, American Joe, and Trump at War — had collectively gained over 2.45 million followers. In some cases, Bannon and Brian Kolfage, co-conspirator in the “We Build the Wall, Inc.” fundraiser/alleged scam, were co-admins. Avaaz campaign director Fadi Quran told Gizmodo that its team identified the Bannon ring by running an “influencer analysis,” keeping tabs on frequent guests on Bannon’s podcasts and pages affiliated with Bannon’s former “We Build the Wall” grift. Avaaz, which is comprised of 40 investigators and data analysts, has kept tabs on habitual misinformers and their coordinated sharing through custom software. They noticed that the Bannon-related pages tended to publish content at the same time and linked to the Populist Press, an even more right-wing Drudge Report copycat trafficking in disproven election fraud claims. The pages avoided warning labels by laundering links through the Populist Press domain rather post the original URLs for stories Facebook had already flagged as misinformation. Avaaz says they’d previously alerted Facebook to a network of 180 Bannon-connected pages and groups which have been sharing misinformation. “We’re a small team run with small donations,” Quran told Gizmodo. “If we can spot this stuff, a multi-billion dollar company with tens of thousands of employees focused on the election and disinformation most certainly can. We are tired of doing their job for them.” Quran added that Avaaz has been alerting Facebook to its problems all year. “If 2016 was an accident,” Quran added, “2020 has been negligence.”
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