Facebook removes more than 100 accounts for 'inauthentic' behavior from Russia, Iran

Facebook has removed more than 100 accounts for coordinating inauthentic behavior on its platforms.

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According to a press release, the company’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said three operations originated in Iran and one from Russia. The so-called “inauthentic behavior” targeted the US, North Africa and Latin America.

“In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action,” Gleicher explained.

So far, the company said it’s removed 93 Facebook accounts, 17 pages and four Instagram profiles related to the violations. More than 7,000 other accounts followed the fake accounts.

Facebook page removed for violating coordinated inauthentic behavior policy (Courtesy Facebook)

The posts targeting countries in Latin America included 38 removed Facebook accounts, 6 pages, 4 groups and 10 Instagram profiles that all originated in Iran.

According to Facebook, the Iranian-based groups would pose as locals and repurpose Iranian state media stories. The follower base of these groups: 13,500 accounts followed at least one of the pages, 4,200 people joined one of the groups and 60 thousand people followed the bogus Instagram accounts.

Translation of post: Trump accuses John McCain and Lindsey Graham of wanting to launch a war against Russia. (Courtesy Facebook)

The activity was found as part of an internal investigation conducted by Facebook related to coordinated inauthentic behavior.

"We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge. We’re committed to continually improving to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working closer with law enforcement, security experts and other companies."
 

- Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy

A smaller network of accounts on Facebook (4) and Instagram (7) originated from Iran and focused on users in the U.S. The accounts directed people to an off-platform domain that was masquerading "as a news entity" called BLMNews. According to Facebook, “The Page admins and account owners typically posted about political issues including topics like race relations in the US, criticism of US and Israel’s policy on Iran, the Black Lives Matter movement, African-American culture and the Iranian foreign policy.”

A bogus post by a group posing as a news agency on Facebook (Courtesy Facebook)

The network noted administrators of the pages paid less than $2 on ads to promote itself.

Fifty Instagram accounts were also deleted along with one Facebook account that originated in Russia and targeted users in the U.S.

“This campaign showed some links to the Internet Research Agency (IRA) and had the hallmarks of a well-resourced operation that took consistent operational security steps to conceal their identity and location,” Facebook’s press release explained.

“The people behind this operation often posted on both sides of political issues including topics like US elections, environmental issues, racial tensions, LGBTQ issues, political candidates, confederate ideas, conservatism and liberalism. They also maintained accounts presenting themselves as local in some swing states, and posed as either conservatives or progressives.”

Instagram account disabled for inauthentic behavior (Courtesy Facebook)

Removed Instagram account (Courtesy Facebook)

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At least 246 thousand people followed at least one of the Instagram accounts that was removed, and 60% of people following the Russia-based accounts were based in the U.S.

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