On a press call a few years ago, I asked Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, if the company would treat a misinformation campaign orchestrated by the US government the same as it would as one from a foreign adversary.
Facebook had organized the call to tout how it had discovered and deleted dozens of Iranian accounts, groups, and pages linked to “coordinated inauthentic behavior”—the company’s term for when people and organizations create fake accounts in an attempt to mislead and manipulate other users and the broader information landscape. The conversation came at a time when Facebook was conducting a spate of such announcements and media briefings championing its work removing phony networks tied to foreign governments.Recent reporting says US operatives “engage in campaigns to influence and manipulate social media.”
Gleicher’s response to my hypothetical question about whether they would react the same way was quite clear: “Yes. Part of the key of our operations here is that we engage based on behavior—not based on content and not based on the nature of the actor. And that’s been a very intentional choice on our part.”