BY ALI BRELAND – 10/26/18
Facebook has discovered Iranian disinformation activity on its platform and is working to reduce its impact.
The company’s head of cybersecurity, Nathaniel Gleicher, revealed Friday that Facebook had removed 82 pages, accounts and groups that engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
Roughly 1 million accounts followed those pages, with another 25,000 accounts joining at least one of the groups and 28,000 accounts following the Instagram pages.
The accounts shared politically divisive messages on issues and political figures, including Colin Kaepernick, British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and on allegations that President Trump‘s campaign colluded with Russia.
The accounts also created seven events and purchased two ads for under $100 total. Gleicher, though, said the focus of the pages appeared to be on messaging through organic content.
“Our threat intelligence team first detected this activity one week ago,” Gleicher wrote in a blog post.
“Given the elections, we took action as soon as we’d completed our initial investigation and shared the information with US and UK government officials, US law enforcement, Congress, other technology companies and the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab,” he added.
He noted that while the misinformation accounts originated in Iran, Facebook has not been able to find ties between the different accounts.
On a call with reporters, Gleicher revealed that the earliest accounts were created in June 2016, but were not very active until this year.
He touted Facebook’s quick response in detecting and removing the accounts within a week, crediting the company’s new “war room” in Menlo Park, Calif. The war room is an office dedicated to catching and curbing the spread of political misinformation campaigns.
Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, in August removed hundreds of accounts linked to Iranian misinformation campaign efforts.
At the time, Facebook also announced that it had deleted a batch of accounts linked to new Russian misinformation efforts.
Over the summer, Facebook said it had discovered a group of inauthentic accounts attempting to influence U.S. political discourse. Those accounts, whose origins are not yet clear, collaborated with actual, unwitting American activists to organize real-life protests.