Facebook finds more fake accounts from Iran

Saul Bowman
October 29, 2018

Facebook on Friday announced the removal of 82 pages, groups, and accounts linked to Iran, a majority of which had misrepresented themselves as being US citizens and posted on "politically charged topics", including immigration and race relations, as relevant to the United States.

Some posts targeted Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, while others attacked US President Donald Trump. Facebook says it's unclear whether they worked for the Iranian government.

One of the pages had amassed 1.02 million followers, and one of the groups was joined by roughly 25,000 accounts.

Facebook said that a little over one million accounts followed at least one of the pages run by the Iranian actors. The accounts also hosted seven Facebook events and spent less than $100 on two ads posted in June 2016 and January 2018, according to Facebook.

Gleicher said there was overlap with accounts linked to Iran's state media that were taken down earlier this year, but the identity of the culprits had yet to be determined.

While the accounts originated in Iran, it was unclear if they were linked to the Tehran government, according to Facebook, which shared the information with researchers, other technology companies and the British and US governments.

Accounts and pages dated back several years, but most of the online activity took place in the past year, according to Facebook.

The company said in a post titled "Taking Down Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior from Iran" that some of the accounts and pages were tied to ones taken down in August.

Facebook has removed dozens of accounts linked to Iran for spreading disinformation to more than a million followers in the United Kingdom and US.

"This evolution of tactics from previous more blatant pro-Iranian messaging suggests the operation had learned from earlier takedowns", the council said.

Facebook's fight against fake news is actually working.

Alphabet, Google's parent company, and Twitter also removed accounts associated with the campaign.

Facebook is bracing for November's midterm elections in the USA, even building a "war room" at the company's headquarters in California. The social media firm says it has created an election "war room" on the campus to monitor behavior it deems "inauthentic".

Although Facebook traced the fake accounts to Iran, the company found no direct links between the propaganda effort and the Iranian government.

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