We’re less than two month away from the midterm elections, and Facebook has decided to roll out a new suite of tools to protect campaigns from hackers.
It’s a new layer of cyber protection that Facebook is making available as a pilot program open to any state or federal campaign. Under the program, per an NBC report, “campaigns as well as campaign committees that opt in to the program would be designated potential high-priority users and be able to take advantage of expedited troubleshooting if they detect any unusual behavior involving their accounts.”
It’s all meant to help spot dubious activity sooner and give Facebook even more lead time to develop a response or take action.
Via a company blog post today, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher explained that page administrators can apply to participate in the program at politics.fb.com/campaignsecurity. Once enrolled, they can add others from their campaign or committee, and Facebook says it will help officials adopt “our strongest account security protections, like two-factor authentication, and monitor for potential hacking threats.”
“If we discover an attack against one campaign official, we can review and protect other accounts that are enrolled in our program and affiliated with that same campaign,” Gleicher says. “As we detect abuse, we will continue to share relevant information with law enforcement and other companies so we can maximize our effectiveness. And, we are continually assessing how this pilot and our other security programs might be expanded to future elections and other users, such as government officials.”
Facebook didn’t provide a lot of detail about what this new security layer entails, probably for obvious reasons. In terms of what it has been detailed about, the company has already said it’s banned hundreds of fake accounts and pages in the lead-up to the midterms, some of which the NBC report notes used behaviors similar to the Russia-backed Internet Research Agency that caused mischief around the 2016 presidential campaign.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is also on record saying the company was caught off-guard by how the company’s tools could be misused by hackers and related groups, which makes today’s news another step in trying to atone for its inaction of recent years. As well as being another proactive move toward making sure as little as possible coopting of its network for nefarious purposes happens going forward.
Time will tell, of course, if that’s a too-lofty goal or if it actually succeeds in making the service better overall. In a post along these lines on his personal Facebook page a few days ago, Zuckerberg wrote that “In 2016, we were not prepared for the coordinated information operations we now regularly face. But we have learned a lot since then and have developed sophisticated systems that combine technology and people to prevent election interference on our services.