Facebook purges 8 sinister networks, some targeting 2020 US election

Facebook.

San Francisco, (Asian independent) Facebook on Tuesday said it has removed eight networks of accounts, Pages and Groups in April, in which two originated in Russia and Iran and focused internationally while the remaining six – in the US, Georgia, Myanmar and Mauritania – targeted domestic audiences in their respective countries including the upcoming US election.

Facebook removed 732 accounts, 162 Instagram accounts, 793 Pages and 200 Groups last month.

In Russia, Facebook linked the malicious activity to the Donbass region in Ukraine and two media organizations in Crimea — NewsFront and SouthFront.

The Iran-originated activity 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.

“Our investigation linked this activity to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation. We found this network as part of our internal investigations into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour, based in part on some links to our past takedowns,” said Facebook.

In the US, Facebook linked the activity to individuals associated with the QAnon network known to spread fringe conspiracy theories.

“We found this activity as part of our internal investigations into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour ahead of the 2020 election in the US,” the social network found.

The Facebook investigation linked another network to VDARE, a website known for posting anti-immigration content, and individuals associated with a similar website The Unz Review.

It found the activity as part of its internal investigations into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior, again ahead of the 2020 election in the US.

All of the networks Facebook took down for coordinated inauthentic behaviour in April were created before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

“However, we’ve seen people behind these campaigns opportunistically use coronavirus-related posts among many other topics to build an audience and drive people to their Pages or off-platform sites,” Facebook said in a statement.

In 2019, Facebook took down over 50 networks worldwide for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviuor (CIB), including ahead of major democratic elections.

“Over the past several years, our team has grown to over 200 people with expertise ranging from open source research, to threat investigations, cyber security, law enforcement and national security, investigative journalism, engineering, product development, data science and academic studies in disinformation,” said Facebook.