Facebook cybersecurity executive talks election "war room," tactics of bad actors

Facebook is unveiling a new so-called "war room" to help prevent election interference and deal with urgent threats in the upcoming midterms. The social media giant says the war room will streamline decision-making if threats emerge — though "you could never fit all the people who work on security in Facebook in one room," Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday.

"We've brought together about 20 of the teams across Facebook that are the core of our efforts to detect bad actors," Gleicher said. "So we have our threat intelligence teams that runs our manual investigations, we have our data science teams that are looking at the big picture and trying to see patterns. And also we work with our outside partners, whether you're talking about people from government, state elections officials, other companies who might see things, see threats and provide information to us."

He hopes the effort will also help minimize other threats, including incidents like Myanmar military personnel's use of Facebook to incite violence against the Rohingya minority.

Facebook disabled more than a billion fake accounts between October 2017 and March 2018. It also doubled the number of people working on safety and security and partnered with third-party fact checkers in an attempt to limit the spread of misinformation. But according to Gleicher, the focus isn't on the content only.

"What we've found is that there are certain tactics that bad actors use again and again, for instance using fake accounts, using what we call fake engagement — that is, trying to make posts look for popular than they really are — and trying conceal their identity. So when we take action, take people down like we did last week and we've done over the last eight months, 10 months, we're acting based on their behavior often," he said.

Gleicher said he's "most confident" that Facebook has "done everything we can to make sure" the 2018 midterm elections will be protected from cybersecurity threats.

"It's always a challenge because there are always going to be people when you have a public debate leading up to an election that are is going to try to target them," Gleicher said.

He said the 2016 presidential election was a "real wake-up call" for Facebook, after admitting they "were too focused on traditional cybersecurity threats."

"Since then we've really been laser focused on all the different ways someone could try to misuse the platform and all the resources we could bring to bear to tackle that challenge," Gleicher said.

Some Facebook investors filed a shareholder proposal to take CEO Mark Zuckerberg out of his role as chairman of the company, accusing him of mishandling various scandals that have plagued the social media platform, according to Business Insider. But Gleicher expressed confidence in Zuckerberg.  

"Particularly in the area where I work, Mark has had incredible leadership," he said.