Facebook has just eliminated several disinformation campaigns related to Russia and Iran.
On Tuesday, the social network announced that it had eliminated 2,632 Facebook pages, groups and accounts that “engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour” on both Facebook and Instagram.
The majority of accounts deleted by Facebook on this occasion were connected to Russia. But, the company says that most of the accounts were eliminated by activities related to spam. In total, the social network eliminated 1,907 pages, groups and accounts linked to Russia. The “small part” of the accounts that were configured to disseminate erroneous information mostly published content related to political problems and conflicts in Ukraine. Around 1.7 million accounts were part of the 1,757 Facebook groups that were eliminated. The company also eliminated 86 pages and 64 Facebook accounts.
In addition to the accounts linked to Russia, Facebook announced that it had eliminated 513 pages, groups and accounts connected to Iran for participating in a coordinated lack of authenticity behavior. The pages linked to Iran proved to be more openly political in nature than the latest round of Russian accounts. Facebook discovered that many of these accounts were posing as real political groups and posing as legitimate media organizations. Many of the stories published by these stories tried to inflame tensions between India and Pakistan, as well as between Israel and Palestine. Other issues that have been published frequently include conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the crisis in Venezuela and terrorism. According to Facebook, this particular operation was widely spread throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
In total, Facebook eliminated 158 pages, 263 Facebook accounts, 35 groups and 57 Instagram accounts connected to Iran. The company says that approximately 1.4 million accounts followed one or more of these pages. These accounts spent around $ 15,000 on Facebook ads between December 2013 and February 2019.
Facebook also shared that it had removed 212 Facebook pages, groups and accounts linked to Macedonia and Kosovo for participating in a coordinated inauthentic behavior. The users behind these accounts shared beauty tips and celebrity news, in addition to the pages that are presented as various political groups in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Around 685,000 accounts followed one or more of the 40 pages connected to Macedonia and Kosovo. Accounts ran around $ 5,800 in Facebook ads between October 2013 and March 2019.
Faced with growing criticism over the years, Facebook began to focus its war on misinformation in 2018. The company has specifically targeted pages, accounts and groups that engage in “inauthentic, coordinated behavior.” Facebook classifies this type of behavior as a user or organization to set up “account networks” to “deceive others about who they are or what they are doing”.
The social networking giant has closed a large number of pages and accounts linked to Russia after the revelation that Russian trolls backed by the state spread misinformation on Facebook to influence the 2016 presidential election.
In recent months, the social network has discovered multiple instances of erroneous information networks linked to Iran in its platform. Before this most recent purge, Facebook had already eliminated more than a thousand pages and accounts in total connected to Iran.
Facebook also had to rely on false news in countries like Myanmar and Indonesia, places where the spread of misinformation on the social network platforms has had deadly consequences.