Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher published a blog post this morning saying the company has discovered and removed hundreds of pages and accounts it deemed to be “inauthentic.” The pages came from two different sources, both based in Russia.
According to Gleicher, one of the sources had ties to the Russian news agency Sputnik. Essentially, Facebook found over 360 pages that were acting in concert with each other, spreading similar information to “the Baltics, Central Asia, the Caucasus, and Central and Eastern European countries.” The pages posed either as independent news sources or destinations about specific benign topics. Yet, they were affiliated with Sputnik employees and “frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption.”
These pages organized hundreds of events over the last three years, as well as had about 790,000 followers and spent about $135,000 in advertising. Gleicher wrote they existed solely on Facebook and not Instagram.
The other source had over a hundred Facebook pages and 41 Instagram accounts. Its posts focused predominately on the Ukraine. Gleicher explained:
The individuals behind these accounts primarily represented themselves as Ukrainian, and they operated a variety of fake accounts while sharing local Ukrainian news stories on a variety of topics, such as weather, protests, NATO, and health conditions at schools. We identified some technical overlap with Russia-based activity we saw prior to the US midterm elections, including behavior that shared characteristics with previous Internet Research Agency (IRA) activity.
This is just one of many updates Facebook has provided about inauthentic accounts it has discovered on the platform. Last November, right before election day, Facebook announced that it had purged over 100 inauthentic accounts that posted in both Russian and English. Before that, Gleicher revealed that the company removed other accounts that were posting content about Iran.
Updates like this show just how much of a game of whack-a-mole this is. It’s good that Facebook is now owning up to the fact that there are thousands of pages and accounts acting in concert to get a hidden message across. Still, it took over a year for Facebook to even admit that such a problem existed.
We should expect to hear more updates of this kind as time goes on. At the same time, the question remains: How is Facebook planning on dealing with this at the systematic level?
Gillette’s new ad urging men to be “the best a man can be” immediately succeeded in justifying its own existence.
If so many prominent adult men could be so triggered by the very suggestion that their gender might want to shave off some less desirable traits, well, obviously there’s some room for improvement.
That @Gillette ad is about the worst thing I’ve ever seen.
It’s a leftist fantasy of negative stereotypes not just about men, but about white men.
In the ad, 43 males exhibit "undesirable" behavior. 42 white, 1 black. 7 males exhibit "desirable" behavior, 5 black, 2 white.
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) January 15, 2019
I've used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity. Let boys be damn boys. Let men be damn men. https://t.co/Hm66OD5lA4
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 14, 2019
– I am not toxic – The amazing men in my life are not toxic– Masculinity is not toxic
The staggering number of 'dislikes' to this video suggest most people agree with me. Now kindly fuck off into insolvency.@Gillette @ProcterGamble https://t.co/oRlY168Ak1
— Peter Lloyd (@Suffragentleman) January 14, 2019
Just a couple days (and over 13 million views) after the ad’s debut, Gillette has been accused of everything from perpetuating a war against men to donning a cloak of wokeness in order to cash in on the progressive air of our current cultural climate. However, just because the ad has provoked a profoundly divisive reaction doesn’t mean it was designed merely to generate brand awareness through chaos.
“We weren’t trying to court controversy,” says Gillette brand director Pankaj Bhalla. “We were just trying to upgrade the selling line that we’ve held for 30 years–the Best a Man Can Get–and make it relevant. I don’t think our intention was to have controversy just for the sake of controversy.”
The idea of giving more meaning, depth, and accountability to Gillette’s decades-old slogan led the brand to create a series of ads exemplifying what it’s dubbed “bestness” from every conceivable angle. There’s the NFL spot with Shaquem Griffin, exploring how the one-handed Seahawks linebacker has achieved bestness against adversity, and there’s the YouTube ad for Gillette’s Treo razor, which showcases a middle-aged man taking care of his father (partly by shaving him.) In the coming weeks, these ads will be joined by a new installment revealing what firefighters have to do to save lives.
But the centerpiece of the whole campaign thus far is the “Best a Man Can Be” ad.
As Bhalla explains it, this ad is directed toward good guys wondering what they can do to be great guys. The answer on hand involves standing up to bullies, not allowing physical violence, and respecting women through gender equality–and more importantly, role modeling this behavior for the next generation of men.
According to Fast Company’s consultation with social media analytics provider Social Sprout, the online response to the ad has been mostly positive. Between January 14 and 16, 63% of the 645,000 tweets about @Gillette have been positive, and 94% of the 246,000 tweets hashtagged #TheBestMenCanBe have been positive.
Of course, the ad also made some men feel attacked. (It takes very little for some men to feel attacked.) For the most part, men are responding to the perceived assault in the usual manner: with threats of a boycott and the prospect of razor-clogged toilets. In the dingier corners of the internet, though, those opposed to the ad have resorted to doxxing its director, a woman. The ramifications of this response are not lost on Gillette. The brand remains resolute behind its intentions, even in the face of outrage and outrageous overreaction.
“I wouldn’t say any of the response is not expected. Masculinity is a complex and layered topic, so we definitely expected debate and conversations,” Bhalla says. “I want to be respectful to the folks who didn’t necessarily like the ad and had a point of view on it–they are absolutely entitled to it. But the ad is not about all men being bad. It’s the exact opposite of that. There’s a part where we say, ‘We believe in the best in all men.’ It’s literally right there in the ad! The intention is to say, ‘All of you guys are great; how about you be an even better role model for your kids?’ That’s it. That’s the ad.”
Bhalla and Gillette’s explanation of the thinking behind the ad seems plausible enough, but there is one alternative theory that places the ad in a larger context, and it’s a theory that’s worth exploring.
They boycotted Keurig, so they're drinking good coffee. Now they're boycotting razors, so they'll end up growing beards. We're just slowly tricking conservatives into becoming hipsters.
— Matt Fernandez (@FattMernandez) January 16, 2019
DRB-Hicom Bhd shares fell as much as 11 sen or 6.15% to RM1.68 so far today after the group said its indirect subsidiary Proton Automobiles (China) Ltd received a civil complaint from Goldstar Heavy Industrial Co Ltd.
Yesterday, DRB-Hicom said in a statement to Bursa Malaysia that Goldstar is claiming, inter alia, the sum of RMB 860.61 million (RM522.91 million).