Facebook, Twitter Remove Thousands of Malicious Accounts From Iran

Facebook announced Thursday that it has removed over 700 pages, groups, and accounts tied to Iran that engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” The social-media giant said in a press release that the inauthentic campaigns “heavily” targeted those in the Middle East and South Asia, and some accounts repurposed “Iranian state media content.” According to Facebook, over 2 million people followed the pages, groups, and Instagram accounts in question. The company also found that these accounts spent less than $30,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads using “US dollars, UK pounds, Canadian dollars, and euros.”

The Washington Post also reported that Twitter identified “thousands” of inauthentic accounts linked to Iran, Venezuela, and Russia that were spreading disinformation and targeting the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. The platform reportedly removed over 2,600 accounts thought to be tied to an Iranian campaign, with only a small fraction targeting the 2018 midterms. Twitter also reportedly said it removed 764 accounts thought to have originated from Venezuela and “mimicked Russia’s information operations.” The website found the Venezuelan accounts tweeted about the midterms “50,000 times,” and were also involved in a second campaign targeting their own country’s internal politics. Four hundred and eighteen Russian accounts were also reportedly found and removed prior to Election Day, but the website said it could not definitively tie the accounts to the Internet Research Agency—a Russian troll farm whose alleged members have been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 election.