Jan 31, 2019

Facebook removes 783 "inauthentic" Iranian accounts

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).

Go deeper

Trump announces 30-day extension of coronavirus guidelines

President Trump announced on Sunday that his administration will extend its "15 Days to Slow the Spread" guidelines until April 30 in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, which has now infected more than 130,000 Americans and killed nearly 2,500.

Why it matters: Top advisers to the president have been seeking to steer him away from Easter as an arbitrary deadline for the U.S. to open parts of its economy, amid warnings from health officials that loosening restrictions could cause the number of coronavirus cases to skyrocket.

Go deeperArrow37 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 716,101 — Total deaths: 33,854 — Total recoveries: 148,900.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 136,880 — Total deaths: 2,409 — Total recoveries: 2,612.
  3. Federal government latest: The first federal prisoner to die from coronavirus was reported from a correctional facility in Louisiana on Sunday.
  4. Public health updates: Fauci says 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could die from virus.
  5. State updates: Louisiana governor says state is on track to exceed ventilator capacity by end of this week — Cuomo says Trump's mandatory quarantine comments "panicked" some people into fleeing New York
  6. World updates: Italy on Sunday reports 756 new deaths, bringing its total 10,779. Spain reports almost 840 dead, another new daily record that bring its total to over 6,500.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Trump touts press briefing "ratings" as U.S. coronavirus case surge

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Trump sent about a half-dozen tweets on Sunday touting the high television ratings that his coronavirus press briefings have received, selectively citing a New York Times article that compared them to "The Bachelor" and "Monday Night Football."

Why it matters: The president has been holding daily press briefings in the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic was declared, but news outlets have struggled with how to cover them live — as Trump has repeatedly been found to spread misinformation and contradict public health officials.