Facebook Removed Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior from Iran and Russia

Facebook announced that they removed four separate networks of accounts, Pages and Groups for engaging in inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. According to Facebook, three of those networks of accounts originated in Iran, and one originated in Russia.

Facebook stated that all of these operations created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing. Facebook has shared its findings with law enforcement, policymakers, and industry partners. In addition, Facebook shared some samples of content that had been posted by some of those Pages. Those who are interested can view it on the Facebook Newsroom announcement.

We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these Pages, Groups, and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. 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.

Here are some details about what Facebook found so far:

  • They removed 93 Facebook accounts, 17 Pages, and four Instagram accounts for violating Facebook’s policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior. Facebook states that this activity originated in Iran and focused primarily on the United States, and some on French-speaking audiences in North Africa.
  • The individuals behind this activity used compromised and fake accounts – some of which had already been disabled by Facebook’s automated systems. Those accounts were used to masquerade as locals, manages Pages, join Groups, and to drive people to off-platform domains connected to Facebook’s previous investigation into the Iran-linked “Liberty Front Press”.
  • The Page admins and account owners typically posted about local political news and geopolitics including topics like public figures in the US, politics in the US and Israel, support of Palestine and conflict in Yemen.
  • About 7,700 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, and around 145 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.

While it is good that Facebook is making an effort to remove fake accounts and inauthentic behavior, it isn’t enough. This keeps happening. Those who use Facebook or Instagram need to be smarter about what accounts they follow, Groups they join, or Pages they interact with. Never follow an off-site link to a website that you haven’t heard of. It could be leading you to “fake news” designed to make you feel outrage.