Published: Mon, October 29, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Facebook pulls dozens of Iran-based 'disinformation' accounts

Facebook pulls dozens of Iran-based 'disinformation' accounts

Facebook has uncovered and removed dozens of pages, accounts and groups linked to Iran that the firm says coordinated "inauthentic behaviour", targeting people in the U.S. and UK.

Facebook published a few example posts Friday, which were critical of the Trump administration as well as British Prime Minister Theresa May.

It said more than a million people followed at least one of the pages, while about 25,000 Facebook members had joined at least one of the groups. About 1 million other accounts followed at least one of the offending pages.

The accounts and groups taken down held a total of 7 events, and bought just 2 paid aids.

"Despite attempts to hide their true identities, a manual review of these accounts linked their activity to Iran", he said. The accounts, which were on both Facebook and Instagram, were used to spread content on socially divisive issues, like race relations and immigration, according to Facebook. The company said that all the affected accounts were linked with "unauthentic" activities.

Facebook says it now has more than 20,000 people working on "safety and security" while advances in artificial intelligence mean more fake accounts are being spotted.

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Facebook's team first picked up on the coordinated activity a week ago; it doesn't yet know who is responsible for the activity.

In a blog post today, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher detailed the discovery, saying that Facebook has found no ties between these accounts and the Iranian government. The network also hosted seven events and purchased two ads on Facebook, spending less than $100 to promote them.

"Given the elections, we took action as soon as we'd completed our initial investigation and shared the information with United States and UK government officials, U.S. law enforcement, Congress, other technology companies and the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab", Gleicher said.

The company said it had first discovered the pages a week ago and that it was making public its initial findings due to the upcoming USA midterm elections. Facebook also disclosed it had taken down a second campaign linked to Russian Federation.

Some of the accounts shut down were linked to a stealth influence campaign out of Iran shut down by Facebook in August, according to the leading social network. For example, in one post talking about the deaths of USA soldiers in World War II, the account's authors used a photo of Soviet soldiers.

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