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Fake Facebook accounts targeted Vietnam Veterans

Caitlin M. Kenney
April 13, 2018 - 2:05 pm
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With all the talk about fake Facebook accounts during the 2016 election, a disturbing case has been identified that specifically targeted Vietnam Veterans. 

The Atlantic reported Thursday that two pages on Facebook, one called “Nam Vets” and the other “Vietnam-Veterans.org," were registered to an organization called Netfinity JSC of Bulgaria. 

Since the Atlantic story was published, both Facebook pages appears to have been taken down. 

When they were operating, they engaged with followers through “divisive political content including videos of protestors stomping on American flags and photos of veterans’ memorials being defaced,” according to the story. 

This content was also notable for the amount of spelling and grammatical mistakes they contained, hinting that they were produced by people without a grasp of the English language. 

One site that was shut down earlier, and registered to the same organization, was using the logo of Vietnam Veterans of America, an actual veteran non-profit. The fake Facebook page had almost 200,000 followers before it was shut down after repeatedly being flagged by Kristofer Goldsmith, VVA’s assistant director for policy, according to the Atlantic piece. 

Military service members, and their photos, have been frequently use in fake online profiles for military romance scams, including a case where several people took the identity of former Sgt. Major of the Army Raymond Chandler III. 

But these cases of fake accounts targeting veterans and military service members through sharing fake content and conspiracies are alarming.

Why target veterans? The Atlantic cites a study from the University of Oxford last October that examined three websites linked to Russia that focused on veterans during the election, and found that they were targeted “because they tend to be ‘community leaders’ trusted by the public.”

These fake accounts are also troubling because they are run by foreign entities that seek to influence individuals into action. In one famous case, also mentioned in The Atlantic piece, was the “Heart of Texas” page that had Russian-linked trolls who created real protest events.

Remember: when following pages or groups on Facebooks (and Twitter), make sure you keep a skeptical eye on the content that is being shared. 

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