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Facebook Removes 82 Iranian-Linked Accounts

Facebook Removes 82 Iranian-Linked Accounts

Facebook says it has eliminated a total of 82 Groups, Pages, and accounts that were linked to Iran and engaging in coordinated "inauthentic behavior". The posts were of "politically charged topics such as race relations, opposition to the president, and immigration".

Sample posts shared by Facebook included inflammatory comments about Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May and the controversy around freshly appointed US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

Another interesting thing to note is that the people behind the alleged accounts had just spent less than $100 on ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Around one million accounts followed at least one of the now-deleted pages, while around 25,000 accounts joined at least one of the groups.

Facebook said that a little over one million accounts followed at least one of the pages run by the Iranian actors.

It added that the Iranian actors spent less than 100 US dollars on two advertisements on both Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram, the first ad appearing in June 2106 and the other in January 2018.

It's unclear how many people saw the content being circulated by the now-deleted accounts from Iran.

Gleicher said there was overlap with accounts taken down earlier this year and linked to Iran state media, but the identity of the culprits had yet to be determined.

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Facebook's social network has more than 2 billion users and Instagram has more than 1 billion.

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 United States midterm elections.

The company said in a post titled "Taking Down Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior from Iran" that some of the accounts and pages were tied to ones taken down in August.

"This looks like an Iranian disinformation operation that has learned from the Russian operations", Nimmo said.

A report from FireEye, a cybersecurity software maker, accused Iran of driving political web content to users in the US, UK, Latin America and the Middle East, prompting Facebook, Twitter and Google to collectively cut hundreds of suspect accounts.

An analysis of 10 Facebook pages and 14 Instagram accounts by the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab concluded the pages and accounts were newer, and more advanced, than another batch of Iranian-linked pages and accounts that were removed in August. The war room is staffed with more than 20,000 workers assigned to weed out fake accounts set up to distribute false information.

"Bringing teams together in the war room has helped us move much more quickly", Gleicher said.


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