Man, those Russians are just everywhere these days, aren’t they? When they weren’t sending super secret lawyers to try to trick Donald Trump Jr. into talking about adoption, they were allegedly spying on the campaign of future French President Emmanuel Macron. But rather than having deep cover moles dropping off canisters of microfilm at the base of the Eiffel Tower, the Russian super spies decided to take a more 21st century, social media approach and used… Facebook. (Reuters)
Russian intelligence agents attempted to spy on President Emmanuel Macron’s election campaign earlier this year by creating phony Facebook personas, according to a U.S. congressman and two other people briefed on the effort.
About two dozen Facebook accounts were created to conduct surveillance on Macron campaign officials and others close to the centrist former financier as he sought to defeat far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen and other opponents in the two-round election, the sources said. Macron won in a landslide in May.
Facebook said in April it had taken action against fake accounts that were spreading misinformation about the French election. But the effort to infiltrate the social networks of Macron officials has not previously been reported.
At first I thought this was a case of hackers figuring out some way of cracking into the massive social network and extracting sensitive information, but it turns out to be pretty much what you’d expect anyone to do when logging in. The article describes it fairly succinctly and it’s really not the most high tech approach one could imagine.
So let me get this straight… Your plan to spy on the Macron campaign was to trick them into friending you on Facebook? And more to the point, they fell for it?
Perhaps the larger question should be addressed to President Macron’s team here. What the heck were you sharing on your Facebook page that was so valuable and sensitive? If you were putting anything worthwhile to the espionage world on your Facebook page an immediate security review of the French government is in order because this is not a solid intelligence management strategy. Sheesh, guys… even Hillary Clinton figured out that you’re supposed to use SnapChat. (Those messages just delete themselves, don’t you know.)
This looks like another case of accusing the Russians of “hacking an election” and finding out later that there’s not a lot of meat on that burger. I have no doubt that the Russians were interested in whatever “meddling” they could accomplish and they may have succeeded in some hacking we don’t know about yet. But getting added to somebody’s Facebook friends list isn’t the most impressive secret agent scheme I’ve heard of.