Facebook has disclosed that it has taken down four separate networks of accounts, Pages and Groups for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
Three of the networks originated from Iran, and one from Russia – all of which targeted different regions across the world including; the US, North Africa and Latin America.
The accounts were removed for misrepresenting themselves to users, and coordinating activity with one another.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy, Facebook said: “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.”
Facebook removed 50 Instagram accounts and one Facebook account that originated in Russia, and was focused on targeting the US 2020 presidential elections. It is believed that the campaign is connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA).
Gleicher commented that the campaign “had the hallmarks of a well-resourced operation that took consistent operational security steps to conceal their identity and location. As we’ve seen before, this appears to have made it difficult for many of these accounts to build the following among authentic communities.”
Those behind the accounts followed, liked, and comments on others’ posts to increase engagement. Additionally, they shared content from other internet services shared by others, including screenshots of social media posts from news organisations.
The people behind the campaign posted content on political issues, such as the US elections, environmental issues, racial tensions, conservatism liberalism and more.
“We detected this activity as part of our ongoing review of suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior ahead of US elections. We’ve shared information with our industry partners, policy makers and law enforcement and will continue working with others to find and remove this behavior.”
Altogether, 264,000 accounts followed one or more these Instagram account – to which around 60% were located in the US.
Facebook also removed 93 Facebook accounts, 17 Pages and four Instagram accounts, that originated in Iran but focused solely on the US and some French-speaking audiences in North Africa.
A separate takedown saw the removal of 38 Facebook accounts, 6 Pages, 4 Groups and 10 Instagram accounts that also originated in Iran but focused on countries in Latin America.
“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.”
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