In its continuous effort to fight the spread of misinformation, Facebook has reportedly taken down hundreds of fake pages.
In a statement released Tuesday morning by Facebook, it confirmed the removal of over 600 fake pages, accounts, and groups that were found to be sowing misinformation. The said accounts were aimed at misleading users around the world through multiple influence campaigns.
All the pages, groups, and accounts that were taken down were said to be involved in different suspicious activities not just on Facebook but on Instagram as well. Some of the activities allegedly originated from Iran and Russia.
“Today we removed multiple Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. Some of this activity originated in Iran, and some originated in Russia,” Facebook said in its statement.
“These were distinct campaigns, and we have not identified any link or coordination between them. However, they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.”
According to the social media giant, the new campaigns they uncovered were not only aimed at Americans. The fake accounts, pages, and groups were also targeted at people living in Britain, the Middle East, and Latin America.
In its preliminary report, the cybersecurity firm FireEye, who works with Facebook in its investigations, said that while some of the activities were focused on the United States, the campaigns were not specifically aimed at disrupting the midterm elections.
“FireEye has identified a suspected influence operation that appears to originate from Iran aimed at audiences in the U.S., U.K., Latin America, and the Middle East. This operation is leveraging a network of inauthentic news sites and clusters of associated accounts across multiple social media platforms to promote political narratives in line with Iranian interests,” FireEye wrote in its analysis.
“These narratives include anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran, such as the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA). The activity we have uncovered is significant, and demonstrates that actors beyond Russia continue to engage in and experiment with online, social media-driven influence operations to shape political discourse.”
Facebook’s announcement comes after Microsoft announced its execution of a court order to shut down sites operated by the Russian hacker group Strontium, also known as Fancy Bear and APT28. Twitter also announced Tuesday that it removed nearly 300 accounts, many of which were related to Iran, for coordinated manipulation.