This month, Facebook says it removed eight networks of accounts, Pages and Groups from Russia, Iran, US, Georgia, Myanmar and Mauritania.
Iran’s state broadcaster has used hundreds of fake social media accounts to covertly spread pro-Iranian messaging online since at least 2011, targeting voters in countries including Britain and the United States, Facebook said.
In a monthly report of accounts suspended for so-called “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, Facebook said it had removed eight networks in recent weeks, including one with links to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation (IRIB).
The Islamic Republic has emerged as one of the most persistent players in online influence operations, as Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google have had to grapple with state-backed groups using social media to further their geopolitical agendas and spread disinformation.
Facebook said it removed 118 Pages, 389 Facebook accounts, 27 Groups, and 6 Instagram accounts. This activity was originated in Iran and focused on a wide range of countries globally including Algeria, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Egypt, Ghana, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, the US, UK and Zimbabwe. Facebook's investigation linked this activity to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation.
The social network also removed 46 Pages, 91 Facebook accounts, 2 Groups, and 1 Instagram account from a network that posted in Russian, English, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Serbian, Georgian, Indonesian and Farsi. The network was focusing on a wide range of regions around the world. Facebook's investigation linked this activity to individuals in Russia, the Donbass region in Ukraine and two media organizations in Crimea — NewsFront and SouthFront.
Facebook also removed 5 Pages, 20 Facebook accounts, and 6 Groups that originated in the US and focused domestically. The investigation linked this activity to individuals associated with the QAnon network known to spread fringe conspiracy theories.
Some additional 19 Pages, 15 Facebook accounts, and 1 Group that originated in the US were also removed. The network was linked this network to VDARE, a website known for posting anti-immigration content, and individuals associated with a similar website The Unz Review.
Overall for the month, Menlo Park, California-based Facebook said it removed 732 accounts on its main social network, 793 pages, 200 groups and 162 Instagram accounts.