- Facebook said on Friday that it had suspended dozens of “inauthentic” pages and accounts that originated in Iran.
- The accounts were spreading divisive political posts on the social network and had amassed about 1 million followers, the company said.
- Facebook said that it had found no ties to the Iranian government and that it didn’t know “for sure who is responsible.”
Facebook said it had detected a coordinated influence campaign run out of Iran that created pages and groups followed by more than 1 million accounts on the social network.
The social network said in a blog post on Friday that it had taken down 30 pages, 33 accounts, and three groups on Facebook, as well as 16 accounts on Instagram, that were tied to the campaign, which it described as “inauthentic behaviour.”
The pages posted politically divisive content targeted at users in the US and the UK in apparent attempts to sow division, Facebook said.
“Our threat intelligence team first detected this activity one week ago. Given the elections, we took action as soon as we’d completed our initial investigation and shared the information with US and UK government officials, US law enforcement, Congress, other technology companies and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in the post. “However, it’s still early days and while we have found no ties to the Iranian government, we can’t say for sure who is responsible.”
The pages and accounts also organised seven events, Facebook said. It was unclear whether these were real-world events or whether anyone attended – though people have in the past gone to events pushed by covert foreign influence campaigns.
In August, Facebook said it had disrupted another Iranian influence campaign in which the groups posed as news organisations. There is “some overlap” between the two efforts, the company said.
On a conference call with reporters on Friday, Gleicher declined to say how many posts the various groups and pages had made or how many people had seen them in total.
But the pages spent less $US100 in advertising in total, according to the company – indicating how divisive influence campaigns can grow their audiences organically through Facebook’s platform without having to dish out cash.
Here are some of the examples of the posts Facebook released:
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