Facebook has revealed that its efforts to stop accounts and pages, tasked with spreading misinformation and pushing political agenda, has resulted in closing hundreds of Iranian linked accounts during April 2020.
In a press release, the social media giant explained that its teams "are constantly working to find and stop coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate across our apps."
According to Facebook's Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report report for April 2020, the company was able to remove 8 different networks, highlighting that Russian and Iranian accounts were especially used to target international audiences.
Additionally, networks removed in the US, Georgia, Myanmar and Mauritania were mostly for domestic use.
The Russian network included 46 Pages, 91 Facebook accounts, 2 Groups, and 1 Instagram account and posted in several languages like Russian, English, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Serbian, Georgian, Indonesian, and Farsi.
However, 389 accounts and 27 pages in addition to 6 Instagram Iran-based accounts were removed after being used to spam social media feed and show fake engagement to systematically push certain political narratives.
According to the report, the activity is most likely linked to the official Iranian Broadcasting Corporation and focused on addressing users from Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, the US, UK, and Zimbabwe.
#Iran regime is one of the most persistent players in online influence operations, as Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google have had to grapple with state-backed groups using social media to further their geopolitical agendas and spread disinformation!https://t.co/Ukz9siZx5r— Nasrin Saifi (@NassrinSaifi) May 5, 2020
The report added that the Iranian network used fake account names, that are common in every region, and posts were primarily written in Arabic, Bengali, Bosnian, and English.
Iranian activity was heavily focused on geopolitical and local news relevant to
مركزين على أفريقيا وبالذات الجزائر والمغرب وتونس.سياسية تدعمها عقيدة— bsaleh (@G_BnSaleh) May 6, 2020
Translation: "They're very focused on Africa especially Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. Their politics are ideologically-motivated."
Topics included "the civil war in Syria, the Arab Spring protests, the tensions
between Libya and Turkey, criticism of Saudi involvement in the Middle East and Africa, Al Qaeda’s actions in Africa, the Occupy movement in the US, criticism of US policies in the Middle East, and the 2012 US elections."
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