Facebook closes fake accounts linked to Iran

Facebook says it has closed over 700 accounts, groups and pages being used in coordinated propaganda

Tags: Facebook Incorporation
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Facebook closes fake accounts linked to Iran Facebook said is investigations had found a number of interconnected accounts. (Getty Images)
By  Mark Sutton Published  February 4, 2019

Facebook has taken down hundreds of fake accounts that were being used to spread propaganda from Iran.

The social media network said it took down 783 pages, groups and accounts that were conducting "coordinated inauthentic behaviour", directed from Iran. The accounts were mainly repurposing Iranian state media content, while posing as local accounts.

The accounts were apparently interconnected, and used similar tactics, including creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.

Facebook found accounts for 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. The Page administrators and account owners typically represented themselves as locals, often using fake accounts, and posted news stories on current events. This included commentary that repurposed Iranian state media's reporting on topics like Israel-Palestine relations and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, including the role of the US, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Some of the activity dates back to 2010.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy said in a company statement: "We identified some of these accounts through our continued investigation into Iranian coordinated inauthentic behaviour we found and removed last year. Our investigation was aided by open source reporting and information provided to us by our industry peers. We have shared information about our investigation with US law enforcement, the US Congress, and policymakers in impacted countries."

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