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Republican Hit Jobs

Fake Facebook profiles set up by operatives for Project Veritas, in violation of FB's terms of service.

The Intercept's Sam Biddle reported last Tuesday that Project Veritas, the rightwing political espionage outfit run by James O'Keefe, has been violating Facebook's terms of service by creating fake profiles to deceive its liberal targets. O'Keefe and his executive producer, Joe Halderman, have admitted to breaking the rules -- the former in his book American Pravda, the latter under oath in a court deposition. I provided Biddle with evidence of action on that intent by way of several screenshots of fake accounts.

The quandary for Facebook is that taking down these old fake accounts will not stop the problem of Veritas creating new fake accounts.

On Sunday, Facebook's cybersecurity chief, Nathaniel Gleicher, claimed in an e-mail to me that Facebook conducted an investigation of the offending accounts and removed them accordingly. However, the three fake accounts mentioned in the Intercept article, for "Ava-Marie Joyce," "Ava Marie Allen," and "Tyler Marshall," are all still active on the platform as of this post's publication (see below). The true identities of the people pictured in these profiles are Marisa Jorge, Hannah Louise Shattuck Maruyama, and Trevor Kendrick, respectively.

The quandary for Facebook is that taking down these old fake accounts will not stop the problem of Veritas creating new fake accounts. The only way to stop the abuse of its platform is to discipline Project Veritas itself and its operatives. Prior to the publication of Biddle's piece, the social media behemoth was perhaps unwittingly facilitating political hit jobs on Democratic organizations and campaigns by these Republican operatives. But now Facebook knows, and if it continues to do nothing, it is complicit.

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