September 17, 2019

2632 accounts, pages and groups removed for “Inauthentic Behavior” on Facebook

ISLAMABAD: Facebook  has removed 2632 accounts, groups and  pages from Facebook and Instagram  for being involved in “Inauthentic Behavior.” 

According to Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Policy Nathaniel Gleicher , these accounts were linked to groups in Iran, Russia, Macedonia and Kosovo but did not seem to have any connection with each other. “We didn’t find any links between these sets of activities, but they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” said Gleicher in a blog post  here.

These accounts were not removed for their content rather than for depicting unusual behavior according to Facebook. Many of them were involved in impersonating political groups and organizations and operating fake accounts.  Information about them has been shared with law enforcement agencies.

513 accounts were linked to Iran: 

Sharing further details, Facebook said that 513 accounts, pages and groups linked to Iran were removed. “The Page administrators and account owners represented themselves as locals and made-up media entities, often using fake accounts – and they impersonated real political groups and media organizations. ”

These accounts were being managed from many countries including Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Kashmir, Kazakhstan or broadly across the Middle East and North Africa and garnered widespread attention.  They had been allegedly involved in amplifying content from Iranian state media on a range of issues including “sanctions against Iran; tensions between India and Pakistan; conflicts in Syria and Yemen; terrorism; tensions between Israel and Palestine; Islamic religious issues; Indian politics; and the recent crisis in Venezuela.”

Apparently, they also had a huge following. According to Facebook, “About 1.4 million accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 108,000 accounts joined at least one of these Groups and around 38,000 accounts followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.”

Furthermore, they had also spent a total of US$ 15000 on ads over Facebook.

1907 accounts linked to Russia:

1907 pages, accounts and groups linked to Russia were removed for engaging in spam. Individuals behind them used fake accounts to operate these groups. A few of them also posted content related to political situation in Ukraine.

They also seemed to enjoy significant traction. According to the statement, “About 50,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and around 1.7 million accounts joined one or more of these Groups.”

212 accounts linked to Macedonia and Kosovo: 

Furthermore, 212 accounts, pages and groups linked to Macedoia and Kosovo were also removed. They were also involved in operating fake accounts to run pages and groups sharing general, non-country specific content like astrology, celebrities and beauty tips. Some of the pages were purported to represent communities in USA, Australia and UK and posted  about religious and political topics like nationalism, Islam, and political figures.

Around 685,000 accounts followed these pages and US$5800 were spent on ads over Facebook.

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