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Facebook deletes 783 pages, groups, and accounts it says were linked to Iran


The social media giant said the accounts had been spreading 'coordinated inauthentic behavior'

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Facebook announced on Thursday that it had deleted 783 different pages, accounts, and groups from Facebook and Instagram that it said were linked to Iran.

Here's what we know

Facebook said it removed the pages for "coordinated inauthentic behavior." The social media giant then shared information about its investigation with "US law enforcement, the US Congress, and policymakers in impacted countries."

According to Facebook, coordinated inauthentic behavior has to do more with accounts lying about their location or coordinating to spread misinformation than it does with the content of individual posts.

According to a blog post on Thursday by Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's Head of Cyber Security Policy:

This activity was directed from Iran, in some cases repurposing Iranian state media content, and engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting people across the world, although more heavily in the Middle East and South Asia. These were interconnected and localized operations, which used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.

The company said that the account owners who ran these pages would try to pass themselves off as locals and post stories about current events, in an attempt to keep up their facade.

What about the accounts?

The accounts were not just limited to the United States. Iranian linked accounts removed by Facebook in this purge, promoting ideas in line with the Iranian regime, were "localized" for countries and regions including "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, US, and Yemen."

Facebook provided examples of posts by some of these accounts, which included posts and pages that were anti-Semitic, critical of Israel, and sympathetic toward the Taliban.

According to Facebook, the people behind these accounts had spent roughly $30,000 on advertising. About 2 million Facebook users followed at least one of these fake accounts. In addition, 1,600 users joined at least one of the fake Facebook groups, and more than 254,000 followed at least one of the fake Instagram accounts.

Some of these accounts had been active since 2010.

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