Facebook is fending off Russian trolls and actual fake news as the 2020 election gears up. The Menlo Park-based social media giant rolled out a slew of election initiatives Oct. 21 to prevent the spread of misinformation and to protect candidates.
But they may have been just a day too late in shielding San Jose Councilman Lan Diep from an attack. The D4 councilor—who’s running for re-election against employment rights attorney Huy Tran and chemical engineer-slash-Berryessa Union School District trustee David Cohen—said his candidate page was mysteriously deactivated on Oct. 20.
Diep tells Fly that he received a notification that his coveted blue verified check mark was being suspended due to “suspicious activity.” Facebook walked him through a few precautionary steps and asked him to reset his password.
But when he did, the page disappeared. That made it considerably more difficult to connect with voters. “In this day and age, Facebook plays a role in political campaigns,” Diep said. “I direct voters to look at my Facebook page on all my campaign literature, so it’s extremely frustrating for it to be down. It certainly leaves me at a disadvantage.”
Five days later Diep’s page reappeared, but this time under a different name: Lan Diep Nasspay. Oddly enough, his url was also altered from @lanforsanjose to @laaaanforsanjose. (It has since been changed back).
Diep’s still unsure what happened and a representative for Facebook offered no explanation when they told Fly his page was back online.
It’s hard to say whether Diep was hacked or if the Russians were trying to interfere with elections in the capital of Silicon Valley.