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Strict laws, collective response can curb influence operations: FB

 Admitting that influence operations on its apps are unlikely to disappear anytime soon, Facebook has said that tighter regulations along with a collective approach can be powerful tools to these deceptive campaigns.

Facebook has outlined recommendations to guide the development of regulation and legislation against these deceptive campaigns.

According to Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy at Facebook, the first and the foremost recommended regulation and legislation is around transparency in ads.

"Facebook will continue to increase transparency for contributions or expenditures for political advertising and work with industry and civil society experts to develop minimum disclosure frameworks, collaborative development of transparency best practices, and the sharing of lessons learned," he said in a statement on Thursday.

Because influence operations manifest differently on different platforms and in their targeting of traditional media, "narrow definitions will likely leave loopholes that attackers can exploit".

We need to "enable greater information sharing of influence operations' threat signals among tech companies and between platforms, civil society and government, while protecting the privacy of innocent users who may be swept up in these campaigns," Facebook argued.

To deter violators, imposing economic, diplomatic and/or criminal penalties on the people behind influence operations campaigns can work.

"Support media and digital literacy efforts to educate people and strengthen societal resilience," Gleicher said.

Since 2016, technology companies, security researchers, journalists and government agencies have made significant strides in understanding these threats and strengthening our collective defenses.

Facebook said that from taking down one network engaged in influence operations in 2017 to removing over 100 networks worldwide since then, including ahead of major democratic elections around the world, they have also made significant changes to how our platforms work.

The aim, the social network said, is "to make it harder for these networks to operate undetected, while increasing transparency for the public around political ads, Pages and state-controlled media".

"If malicious actors coordinate off our platforms, we may not identify that collaboration.

"If they run campaigns that rely on independent websites and target journalists and traditional media, we and other technology companies will be limited to taking action on the components of such campaigns we see on our platforms," Facebook said.

Facebook said there is a clear need for a strong collective response that imposes a higher cost on people behind influence operations in addition to making these deceptive campaigns less effective.