Facebook says it found no foreign interference targeting U.S. protests

(Reuters) - Facebook Inc said on Friday it had seen no evidence of coordinated foreign interference on its platforms targeting U.S. anti-racism protests, after the U.S. attorney general said foreign groups were trying to exacerbate the situation.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen placed on a keyboard in this illustration taken March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

“We have been actively looking and we haven’t yet seen foreign interference or domestic coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting these protests,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, in a call with reporters.

“We want to caution people against jumping to conclusions without clear evidence of foreign interference.”

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Thursday that foreign groups were using disinformation campaigns like those mounted by Russia during the 2016 presidential election to widen divisions in U.S. society.

Protests broke out around the country after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck while detaining him in Minneapolis.

“Some of the foreign hackers and groups that are associated with foreign governments are focusing in on this particular situation we have here, and trying to exacerbate it in every way they can,” Barr said.

Twitter Inc declined on Friday to comment on Barr’s statements. A spokesman said the company was taking proactive action on any coordinated attempts to disrupt the public conversation on the issue.

Gleicher said Facebook had reached out to its partners in government.

Facebook on Thursday said it would start labeling Russian, Chinese and other state-controlled media outlets and later this year will block any ads from such outlets that target U.S. users.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Facebook had suspended accounts associated with white nationalist groups after some advocated bringing weapons to the protests. Facebook also removed accounts falsely claiming allegiance to antifa in order to bring discredit to the anti-fascist movement.

Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Richard Chang and David Gregorio