Facebook Removes Scores of Fake Iran-Linked Accounts

Facebook revealed on Friday that it has removed 82 Pages, Groups and accounts linked to Iran which it said were spoofed to appear as if run by US and UK citizens.

In total, the social network took down 30 Pages, three Groups and 33 accounts on Facebook, as well as 16 accounts on Instagram — accusing them of “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

“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,” explained head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher.

“Despite attempts to hide their true identities, a manual review of these accounts linked their activity to Iran. We also identified some overlap with the Iranian accounts and Pages we removed in August.”

Facebook’s initial research seems to indicate limited exposure for the content: around one million accounts are said to have followed at least one of the Pages, around 25,000 accounts joined at least one of the Groups, and more than 28,000 accounts followed at least one of the Instagram accounts in question.

In addition, those behind the spoof accounts spent less than $100 in advertising, and of the seven events hosted, only 110 people expressed an interest in at least one event, it said.

However, separate reports claim slightly different findings: Facebook page I Need Justice Now had more than 13 million video views, the Digital Forensic Research Lab told the BBC.

The social network claimed it now has over 20,000 employees working specifically on safety and security, with AI tools also helping to detect fake accounts.

The revelations come just days before the crucial midterm elections in the US and during ongoing Brexit-related tensions in the UK.

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