Facebook Yanks Hundreds of Disinformation Pages Originating From Iran, Russia

Facebook Twitter take down ‘inauthentic Iran-linked’ accounts… but Russia takes the heat

The group was linked to Iranian state media based on website registrations, IP addresses and administrator accounts, Facebook said. However, Twitter has also taken action against the group's social media accounts.

But not finding a connection between this operation and Russian Federation doesn't mean Facebook hasn't been busy with Putin & Co.

Facebook removed 652 pages, groups and accounts "for coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK, and U.S.".

That activity "could suggest a more active attempt to influence domestic USA political discourse" is forthcoming, Foster said, but "we just haven't seen that yet".

Facebook made the announcement Tuesday evening. Soon after, Twitter said it suspended 284 accounts, many of which also originated in Iran, all meant to engage "in coordinated manipulation".

Furthermore, Facebook says that we're looking at some of the same bad actors it removed before the 2016 election. You don't think US companies and pols operate coordinated accounts? Other social media networks have done likewise, and continue to turn up fresh evidence of political disinformation campaigns. "Based on what we learn in this investigation and from government officials, we'll make changes to better detect people who try to evade our sanctions compliance tools and prevent them from advertising".

The social media company was first notified by a security firm of activity by a network of Facebook pages called "Liberty Front Press".

Facebook has identified and banned hundreds of accounts, groups and pages engaged in misleading political behavior.

Facebook has been working to safeguard global elections from foreign interference since it discovered, months after Donald Trump's 2016 election as USA president, that Russian Federation had been waging a campaign to influence voters, reaching about 150 million Facebook users in the process.

"It's significant in that it shows it's not just Russian Federation that's engaged in this activity", Foster said.

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Other accounts that linked to sources previously identified by the United States government as Russian military intelligence services were also removed from the site.

FireEye said the aim was to "promote Iranian political interests, including anti-Saudi, anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as promote support for specific US policies favorable to Iran, such as the US-Iran nuclear deal". "For example, one part of the network, 'Quest 4 Truth, ' claims to be an independent Iranian media organization, but is in fact linked to Press TV, an English-language news network affiliated with Iranian state media". "These were distinct campaigns and we have not identified any link or coordination between them".

U.S. and Australian currency was used to buy $6,000-plus worth of Facebook and Instagram accounts, running from January 2015 to this month, and while some were blocked under Facebook's "political ads transparency" push, the social network said it's still reviewing content from these accounts.

Some of the content Facebook removed could be traced to groups previously connected to the GRU, Russia's primary military intelligence agency.

Users who correctly report fake news will be deemed more reliable than those who falsely flag posts. Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify at a September 5 hearing in the Senate focused on foreign interference in US politics and social media.

The pages mainly focused on spreading pro-Russia and pro-Assad news about Syria and Ukraine.

The Iranian mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment. The agency bought thousands of ads targeting Americans, often with rubles, and created posts that reached 126 million Americans, frequently with divisive messages. Some of the accounts had events and groups associated with them.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company's attempts to identify fake pages, groups and accounts are making the social network safer.

On Monday, Microsoft said Russian hackers had tried to steal data from political organisations, including the International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute think tanks.

In some cases, the domains for the fake websites like "US Journal" and "Liberty Free Press" were originally registered years before the 2016 election, in 2014 and 2013, but most remained inactive until last year, FireEye said.

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