USA Today asks FBI to fight Facebook bots

The Facebook page of US newspaper USA Today has been swamped with fake users, its parent company has said.

Gannett Co has now asked the FBI to investigate, after it estimated that half of the newspaper’s Facebook following was automated.

Facebook has removed millions of the fake accounts, but it has detected more suspicious activity since.

And the number of “likes” on the page has fallen from 15.2 million to 8.2 million due to the account deletions,

“We don’t know why the scope of impact on USA Today’s Facebook page appears greater than any other publisher,” said Facebook spokeswoman Shabnam Shaik, in a report by USA Today on the issue.

The bots were observed commenting on stories, replying to each other and “liking” posts – as well as “liking” the USA Today page itself.

“From our point of view, we have done as much as we can in our control to solve the problem at hand,” said Maribel Perez Wadsworth, an executive at Gannett Co.

“We look forward to Facebook resolving this issue on their platform so that we can move forward and positively engage our Facebook audience.”

Proofpoint, a cyber-security firm used by Gannett Co, told the BBC it is continuing to investigate and track suspicious accounts on the page.

The BBC asked the FBI to confirm whether it had launched an investigation, but the bureau declined to comment.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.


Week 5 MLB power rankings: Are the Yankees for real?

The Washington Nationals were the unanimous choice this week for the No. 1 rank in USA TODAY MLB power rankings.

But don’t look now, the New York Yankees, who just swept the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, moved up to the No. 3 spot — its best ranking this season.

From 1 to 30, how they stack up based on voting from our 10-person panel:


1. Washington Nationals: —

14-6 vs. NL East opponents.

2. Houston Astros: +2

21-11 start matches ’73, ’04 teams for best in club history.

3. New York Yankees: +2

Cubs not even a speed bump for these Bombers.


4. Baltimore Orioles:  +2

Four games with neighboring Nationals will be good measure.

5. Chicago Cubs: -3

Brett Anderson has failed to complete four innings in three of six starts.

6. Cleveland Indians: -3

Shocker: Andrew Miller has a 0.00 ERA, a 0.77 WHIP, seven holds, no blown saves.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers: +1

Cody Bellinger latest reminder this club will bludgeon the NL with depth.

8. Colorado Rockies: +1

Ian Desmond is back, but Mark Reynolds (11 homers, 1.040 OPS) isn’t going anywhere.

9. Boston Red Sox: -2

5-2 in Chris Sale’s starts.

10. St. Louis Cardinals: +1

Sam Tuivailala (1.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) surprise MVP of bullpen thus far.

11. Arizona Diamondbacks: -1

Shelby Miller’s Tommy John surgery may prompt Archie Bradley’s rotation return.

12. Detroit Tigers: +2

Days Since A Tigers Bullpen Meltdown: 0

13. Tampa Bay Rays: +3

Kevin Kiermaier (.205, .297 OBP) dropped toward bottom of lineup.

14. Cincinnati Reds: +13

Are they for real? Ask again after 12 of 16 vs. Yankees, Cubs, Indians, Rockies.

15. Milwaukee Brewers: —

Beer leaguers, indeed: Lead NL in home runs (50), third in slugging (.453).

16. New York Mets: +5

“Queens Is Burning” doesn’t quite have the same ring.

Mysterious rash of Russian deaths casts suspicion on Vladimir Putin

A former member of the Russian parliament is gunned down in broad daylight in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev. A longtime Russian ambassador to the United Nations drops dead at work. A Russian-backed commander in the breakaway Ukrainian province of Donetsk is blown up in an elevator. A Russian media executive is found dead in his Washington, D.C., hotel room.

What do they have in common? They are among 38 prominent Russians who are victims of unsolved murders or suspicious deaths since the beginning of 2014, according to a list compiled by USA TODAY and British journalist Sarah Hurst, who has done research in Russia.

The list contains 10 high-profile critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, seven diplomats, six associates of Kremlin power brokers who had a falling out — often over corruption — and 13 military or political leaders involved in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, including commanders of Russian-backed separatist forces. Two are possibly connected to a dossier alleging connections between President Trump’s campaign staff and Kremlin officials that was produced by a former British spy and shared with the FBI.

Twelve were shot, stabbed or beaten to death. Six were blown up. Ten died allegedly of natural causes. One died of mysterious head injuries, one reportedly slipped and hit his head in a public bath, one was hanged in his jail cell, and one died after drinking coffee. The cause of six deaths was reported as unknown.

FBI Director James Comey ‘mildly nauseous’ Clinton email probe decisions may have impacted election

WASHINGTON –  FBI Director James Comey staunchly defended his decision to publicly announce the reopening of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s private email server 11 days before the November election, telling a Senate panel on Wednesday it would have been the “death of the FBI as an institution in America” had he remained silent about possible new evidence.

Still, Comey acknowledged the possible repercussions of such a move. “It makes me mildly nauseous that we would have had an impact on the election,” Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee in his most detailed explanation yet of his controversial October action.