Social media giant Facebook has issued a notice to the users stating the removal of multiple pages, groups and accounts that originated in Iran for ‘engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour on Facebook and Instagram’. Facebook deleted a total of 115 accounts:
- 30 Facebook
- 85 Instagram
Giving a detailed description of the incident Facebook wrote:
“This is when people or organizations create networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing. We prohibit coordinated inauthentic behaviour on Facebook because we want people who use our services to be able to trust the connections they make”.
Immediately after Facebook detected the activity, the election war room team quickly investigated the matter and deleted the ‘bad actors’.
“As soon as we detected this activity, the teams in our elections war room worked quickly to investigate and remove these bad actors. Finding and removing abuse is a constant challenge. Our adversaries are smart and well funded, and as we improve their tactics change”, reads Facebook’s official page.
What has Facebook found so far:
- 115 Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behaviour that originated in Iran targeted people in the US and UK
- The Page administrators and account owners typically represented themselves as US citizens, or in a few cases, UK citizens — and they posted about politically charged topics such as race relations, opposition to the President, and immigration
- Despite attempts to hide their true identities, a manual review of these accounts linked their activity to Iran
Presence on Facebook and Instagram: Around 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts have been identified that may be engaged in the coordinated inauthentic behaviour
Followers: About 1.02 million accounts followed at least one of these Pages, about 25,000 accounts joined at least one of these Groups, and more than 28,000 accounts followed at least one of these Instagram accounts.
Advertising: Less than $100 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram across two ads paid for in US and Canadian dollars. The first ad ran in June 2016, and the second ran in January 2018. We have not completed our review of the organic content coming from these accounts.
Events: Seven events hosted. The first was scheduled for February 2016, and the most recent was scheduled for June 2018. 110 people expressed interest in at least one of these events, and two events received no interest. Some appear to have been planned to occur only online. The themes are similar to the rest of the activity we have described.
Steps taken to ensure safety:
- To ensure safety and to stay ahead Facebook has invested heavily in better technology and more people
- There are now over 20,000 people working on safety and security at Facebook and thanks to improvements in artificial intelligence Facebook can detect many fake accounts, the root cause of so many issues, before they are even created
- Facebook will be working more closely with governments, law enforcement, security experts and other companies