Facebook and Twitter Remove Hundreds of Political Influence Accounts Linked to Iran and Russia

By Nitish Singh / August 22, 2018

652 fake accounts were taken down by Facebook after being tipped by cybersecurity firm FireEye about suspicious activity. A large number of the accounts were guilty of influencing users politically and were owned by an organization identifying themselves as the Liberty Front Press. The networks of pages have links to Iran and Russia and have accounts in multiple social platforms including Instagram and Twitter. Twitter has taken down hundreds of accounts after becoming aware of the situation as well.

FireEye tipped Facebook about the accounts in July about the network. Facebook initiated the investigation and found hundreds of Iran and Russia-linked accounts that date back as far as 2011. The pages were found to be sharing political posts about the US, UK and Middle East. Similar content was posted throughout the network’s pages, and the political campaign included hundreds of Facebook pages and accounts along with 31 Instagram accounts. Over $6,000 was spent on ads by the organization between July 2012 and April 2018.

Many of the banned accounts were also linked to Russian military intelligence, and they seem to be not a part of the Iranian campaign. The Russian pages were focused on political messages targeting Ukraine and Syria. Prior to the recent ban wave, Facebook also identified an unknown number of suspicious accounts last month for coordinated inauthentic behavior connected to the US midterm elections. It led to the social media giant implementing multiple changes to how page administration works and other security measures were set in place.

US law enforcement officials have been notified about the findings by Facebook, and the social media company is currently working with them to review posts from the political campaigns. Twitter is also working with US law enforcement after being notified about the political campaigns. 284 accounts have been removed from the microblogging website for coordinated manipulation of political views.

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