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Facebook deletes 783 pages, accounts tied to Iran

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Facebook said it has removed 783 accounts, pages and groups tied to Iran for engaging in what it called “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

In a statement on Thursday, the social media company said the alleged Iranian campaign targeted people across the world and in some cases pushed repurposed content from Iranian state media.

“The Page administrators and account owners typically represented themselves as locals, often using fake accounts, and posted news stories on current events,” Facebook said.

“This included commentary that repurposed Iranian state media’s reporting on topics like Israel-Palestine relations and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, including the role of the US, Saudi Arabia, and Russia,” it added.

“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our manual review linked these accounts to Iran.”

The statement included several screenshots of posts from the deleted accounts and pages.

They included accounts on Instagram, a photo-sharing network owned by Facebook.

These accounts spent about $30,000 on advertisement to promote certain pages on Facebook and Instagram, the statement said.

The operation dating back to as early as 2010 had 262 pages, 356 accounts, and three groups on Facebook, as well as 162 accounts on Instagram and were followed by about two million users.

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Facebook said the fake accounts were part of an influence campaign that operated in Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, US, and Yemen.

Meanwhile, Twitter also said on Thursday it has deleted thousands of accounts that tried to influence the 2018 US midterm elections.

Those accounts originated from Iran, Russia, Venezuela and Bangladesh , the social media company said in a statement.

The vast majority of the removed accounts originated from Iran, according to a dataset published by Twitter.

The social media company said it “identified much less platform manipulation from bad-faith actors located abroad” during the 2018 elections as compared to the 2016 US presidential election.

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Both Facebook and Twitter have cracked down on fake accounts since 2016, when accounts linked to Russia were accused of sowing misinformation to influence the presidential election.


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