Jan 31, 2019 - Technology

Facebook removes 783 "inauthentic" Iranian accounts

Facebook logo on a smartphone screen

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Facebook announced Thursday it was removing 783 pages, groups and accounts from Facebook and Instagram that were part of an apparent Iranian influence campaign.

Why it matters: The accounts were pursuing what Facebook calls "coordinated inauthentic behavior" and focused on influencing opinion in a bevy of countries, including the U.S.

Details: The countries targeted included 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, U.S., and Yemen.

  • The accounts included 262 Facebook pages, 356 Facebook accounts, 3 Facebook group and 162 accounts on Instagram. There were 8 live events, with 210 people expressing interest in the events.
  • 2 million accounts followed the Facebook pages.
  • Facebook has shared the messaging with law enforcement and lawmakers, as well as the Atlantic Council for third party analysis.
  • Facebook said some content was taken from Iranian state media.

Facebook credited its own work with Twitter's help for finding the attacks. "The first source of this takedown was our own internal investigation...but a second important source was industry partnerships, in this case Twitter," said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook.

Simultaneously, Twitter released a review of security actions surrounding the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and said that since then it has taken down additional accounts tied to Iran (2617), Russia (418) and Venezuela (764).

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