Facebook says it removed three unconnected networks of accounts, Pages and Groups for engaging in foreign or government interference — which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a government or foreign actor — on Facebook and Instagram.
The first operation originated in Russia and primarily targeted Ukraine and its neighboring countries. The second originated in Iran and focused mainly on the US. The third network originated in Myanmar and Vietnam and targeted audiences in Myanmar. Facebook said that each of them created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.
Specifically, Facebook removed 78 Facebook accounts, 11 Pages, 29 Groups and four Instagram accounts for violating the company's policy against foreign or government interference. This activity originated in Russia and focused primarily on Ukraine and neighboring countries.
The individuals behind this activity posed as locals and used fake accounts — some of which had already been detected and disabled by our automated systems — to manage Groups and Pages, post and comment on various content. Some of these accounts represented themselves as citizen journalists and tried to contact policymakers, journalists and other public figures in the region. The Page admins and account owners typically posted content in Russian, English and Ukrainian about local and political news including public figures in Ukraine, Russian military engagement in Syria, alleged SBU leaks related to ethnic tensions in Crimea and the downing of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine in 2014.
- Presence on Facebook and Instagram: 78 Facebook accounts, 11 Pages, 29 Groups and 4 accounts on Instagram.
- Followers: About 500 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 6,150 accounts joined at least one of these Groups and around 100 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
Facebook also removed 6 Facebook accounts and 5 Instagram accounts that were involved in foreign interference as part of a small network originating in Iran that primarily focused on the US.
The individuals behind this activity used fake accounts — some of which had been previously detected and disabled by Facebook's automated systems — to post in Groups and comment on content. Some of them attempted to contact public figures. They shared posts about political news and geopolitics including topics like the US elections, Christianity, US-Iran relations, US immigration policy, criticism of US policies in the Middle East and public figures as well as video interviews with academics, public figures and columnists on issues related to Iran and US elections.
- Presence on Facebook and Instagram: 6 Facebook accounts and 5 accounts on Instagram.
- Followers: About 60 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
Finally, Facebook removed 13 Facebook accounts and 10 Pages for violating the company's policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior. This Myanmar-focused activity originated in Myanmar and Vietnam.
The individuals behind this network used fake accounts to manage Pages posing as independent telecom consumer news hubs. They also purported to be customers of some of the telecom providers in Myanmar posting critical commentary about those companies and their services. The Page admins and account owners typically shared content in English and Burmese about alleged business failures and planned market exit of some service providers in Myanmar, and their alleged fraudulent activity against their customers. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, Facebook's investigation found links to two telecom providers — Mytel in Myanmar and Viettel in Vietnam — and Gapit Communications, a PR firm in Vietnam.
- Presence on Facebook: 13 Facebook accounts and 10 Pages.
- Followers: About 265,600 accounts followed one or more of these Pages.
- Advertising: Around $1,155,000 in spending for ads on Facebook paid for in US dollars and Vietnamese dong.