Facebook announced that it has removed four separate networks of accounts, Pages and Groups for “engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram,” meaning they were engaged in disinformation campaigns.
Facebook said in a statement Monday that three of the networks originated in Iran and one in Russia, and they targeted a number of different regions of the world, including the US, North Africa and Latin America.
In total, 93 Facebook accounts, 17 Pages and four Instagram accounts were closed. About 7,700 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and around 145 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
Iran’s networks focused primarily on the US, and some on French-speaking audiences in North Africa. Page admins and account owners typically posted about local political news and geopolitics including topics like public figures in the US, politics in the US and Israel, support of Palestine and the conflict in Yemen.
Facebook also removed 38 Facebook accounts, six Pages, four Groups and 10 Instagram accounts that originated in Iran and focused on countries in Latin America, including Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico, as well as a small network of four Facebook accounts, three Pages and seven Instagram accounts that originated in Iran and focused mainly on the US.
One of the Pages, titled “Israel deceits and lies,” accused Israel of acts of terrorism against the Palestinians and the US of sponsoring it.
“All of these operations created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” Facebook stated.
The social media giant shared the information about its findings with law enforcement, “policymakers and industry partners,” it 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,” the company underscored.
These Pages and Groups were shut down 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 Facebook’s action.
“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,” Facebook said.
Yiftah Curiel, Director, Department for Digital Diplomacy at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that Facebook took “an important step to curb the Iranian regime’s weaponization of social media.”