Facebook finds disinformation campaigns run from Iran and Russia

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This fake ad campaign calls out one of Twitter's very real problems

Fb has taken down 652 pages, accounts and teams it recognized as a part of coordinated disinformation campaigns that originated in Iran and focused international locations world wide. It additionally discovered numerous new pages linked to Russia.

The Iran-linked pages and teams unfold misinformation in the US, United Kingdom, Latin America and the Center East. A few of them posed as a gaggle known as “Liberty Entrance Press.”

Fb (FB) stated the coordinated campaigns originating in Iran included 254 Fb pages and 116 Instagram accounts that amassed greater than 1 million followers throughout the 2 companies. These behind the pages spent greater than $12,000 on commercials between 2012 and 2017, the corporate stated.

Fb, Twitter (TWTR) and different social media firms have been scrambling to guard their platforms forward of the US midterm elections in November and stop a repeat of the widespread disinformation seen through the 2016 presidential marketing campaign.

Fb CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated the corporate’s makes an attempt to determine pretend pages, teams and accounts are making the social community safer.

“Whereas it is nonetheless early, we’re beginning to see it repay and we’re figuring out extra of this earlier than the election,” he stated on a name with reporters.

In a associated growth, Twitter announced on Tuesday that it has identified and removed 284 accounts, lots of which it linked to Iran, for “coordinated manipulation.” The corporate stated it’s working with regulation enforcement and different tech corporations.

The bulletins underscore simply how aggressively international actors are nonetheless looking for to covertly affect political conversations in international locations world wide. Fb’s revelation got here after Microsoft (MSFT) took management of internet sites it stated Russian army intelligence may have tried to make use of to hack American politicians.

Microsoft stops Kremlin-based hackers

Fb made the announcement Tuesday night. Among the pages had been recognized by Fb after a tip from cybersecurity agency FireEye.

“This affect operation linked to Iran goals to advertise political narratives in keeping with Iranian pursuits, together with anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes,” FireEye analyst Lee Foster stated. “The exercise we’ve uncovered is critical and demonstrates that actors past Russia proceed to have interaction in on-line, social media-driven affect operations as a way of shaping political discourse.”

FireEye famous that the Iran-linked exercise it uncovered “doesn’t seem to have been designed as a devoted try to affect the 2018 US midterm elections.”

“This doesn’t preclude such makes an attempt being made, nonetheless, and the latest reorientation of some social media accounts to adopting left-leaning identities could point out an opportunistic shift towards a extra elaborate effort to affect US home political discourse,” it added.

Among the content material Fb eliminated may very well be traced to teams beforehand linked to the GRU, Russia’s major army intelligence company. Particular counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 members of the GRU final month, accusing them of hacking the US Democratic Social gathering.

Fb stated that the newest Russian accounts, teams and pages it took down weren’t associated to those originating in Iran, and that they didn’t seem to have focused the US. “This more moderen exercise targeted on politics in Syria and Ukraine,” it stated.

Fb is working with US regulation enforcement in an ongoing investigation. It stated it has been following suspect pages for months.

Utilizing clues like web site registrations and IP addresses, Fb linked Liberty Entrance Press pages to Iranian state media. The primary Liberty Entrance Press accounts Fb discovered had been created in 2013.

One other set of suspicious accounts and pages that originated in Iran may very well be traced to 2011.

The announcement comes amid Fb’s makes an attempt to stop a repeat of 2016, when the platform was peppered with accounts linked to a Kremlin-linked troll group posing as Individuals. It eliminated greater than 30 pages final month that it stated had been a part of a coordinated marketing campaign to submit “deceptive” data. Fb instructed lawmakers it suspected a Russian group was behind the accounts, which had been concerned in organizing political occasions in the US.

Facebook takes down suspected Russian network of pages

Tuesday’s revelations present the issue goes past Russia.

“I have been saying for months that there isn’t any approach the issue of social media manipulation is restricted to a single troll farm in St. Petersburg, and that reality is now past a doubt,” stated Senator Mark Warner, high Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We additionally realized right now that the Iranians are actually following the Kremlin’s playbook from 2016.”

CNNMoney (San Francisco) First printed August 21, 2018: 7:46 PM ET



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