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Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg tried to warn the RNC it had been hacked by Russians before the 2016 election

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In an exclusive interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg opened up about Russia’s hacking of the social network — and the ways he tried to warn those affected.

“What we saw, before the election, was this Russian hacking group, part of Russian military intelligence, that I guess our government calls [Advanced Persistent Threat 28],” Zuckerberg told Swisher for Recode’s Decode podcast. “They were trying to do more traditional methods of hacking: Phishing people’s accounts, just getting access to people’s accounts that way.”

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The Facebook CEO said the company identified APT28’s efforts “in the middle of 2015” and subsequently alerted the FBI. The company then saw phishing attempts at both the Democratic and Republican national committees and “some of the people over there as well, [who] we thought were at risk.”

In the interview, Zuckerberg also admitted that Facebook was “too slow” to counter the fake profiles created by the Internet Research Agency, the infamous Russian “troll farm.”

After becoming aware of the problem, the CEO said Facebook “developed this whole roadmap and set of techniques to go and handle that type of security threat.” The IRA, Zuckerberg said, had created troll accounts not just in the US presidential election, but also for elections in France, Germany and Mexico, along with the Alabama special election between Roy Moore and Doug Jones.

When asked if he agrees with the US intelligence community’s assertion that the IRA was funded and controlled by the Kremlin, Zuckerberg said he has “no reason not to.”

The Facebook CEO said the company has also tracked APT28 and the IRA itself, and found that there are organizations the Russian government props up as legitimate that are “essentially the same thing as the IRA” and ran by the same people.

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“These things are real, and we’ve been aggressively pursuing them for the last couple of years,” Zuckerberg said. “This is now just part of the ongoing playbook that we have for preventing these kind of disinformation campaigns.”

You can listen to the entire interview below via Recode.

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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Lady Antebellum changed their name for racial sensitivity — now they’re suing the Black singer who already used the name

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In June, as the national conversation about racial justice in the wake of the George Floyd killing pushed many groups and organizations to examine the racial connotations of their brands, the country music group Lady Antebellum announced they were changing their name to "Lady A" to remove reference to the slavery period of Southern history.

There was just one problem: an African-American blues singer in Seattle, Anita White, already went by that name. Now, according to Pitchfork, the band is going to court for the right to use the trademark.

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