- Facebook announced it removed over 2,600 pages, groups, and accounts for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour.”
- It identified three distinct operations originating in Russia, Iran, and Kosovo and Macedonia.
- While the Russian operation was the largest, the Iranian and Kosovan-Macedonian operations spent a combined total of $US20,800 on ads since 2013.
Facebook on Tuesday announced that it removed 2,632 pages, groups, and accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” on both Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook identified three separate operations originating from Iran, Russia, and Kosovo and Macedonia.
The Russian operation was the largest, with a total of 1,907 pages, groups, and accounts removed. Primarily, the Russian network produced spam, although a smaller number of its pages posted news relating to Ukraine.
According to Facebook, one or more of the groups run by the Russian operation had a membership of 1.7 million.
Second largest was the Iranian network, which comprised of 513 pages, groups, and accounts and was more overtly politicised. According to Facebook, the Iranian network both invented fake media organisations and posed as legitimate ones, as well as political groups.
The topics this network chose to amplify included among others: Sanctions against Iran, tensions between India and Pakistan, and tensions between Israel and Palestine.
It spent roughly $US15,000 on ads, which it took out from as far back as 2013, all the way up to February this year.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has caught Iranian-backed accounts passing themselves off as real news organisations. In August 2018, Facebook announced it had been tipped off to a network of Iran-backed sites called the “Liberty Front Press” by cybersecurity firm FireEye.
The final and smallest coordinated network with 212 pages, groups, and accounts removed stemmed from Kosovo and Macedonia. It mostly produced innocuous lifestyle content about topics like astrology, celebrities, and beauty tips.
A small number of pages, however, posed as political groups from Australia, the UK and the US, and posted content about political and religious topics, including Britain’s exit from the European Union.
The Kosovan-Macedonian network also spent money on ads (roughly $US5,800), which similarly ran from 2013 until March this year.
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