It’s happened again.
Facebook has reported that it’s
detected another group of Pages, groups and accounts which
have been found to be participating in “coordinated,
inauthentic behavior” on the platform.
The new group appears to originate from Iran, with connected
profiles across both Facebook and Instagram – here are the
cumulative findings that
Facebook has reported:
Presence on Facebook and Instagram
– 254 Pages, 276 accounts, and 3 groups on
Facebook, as well as 116 accounts on Instagram.
Followers – About
983,000 accounts followed at least one of these Pages, 2,300
accounts joined at least one of these groups, and more than
59,000 accounts followed at least one of these Instagram
Advertising – More
than $12,000 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram,
paid for in US and Australian dollars. The first ad was run
in Jan 2015, and the last was run in August 2018. Some ads
have been blocked since the launch of our political ads
transparency tools launched. We have not completed our review
of the organic content coming from these accounts.
Events – 28 events
All of these pages have now been removed – 652 Pages, groups
and accounts in total, a huge network of potential influence.
The findings once again underline the power Facebook holds in
this regard, and the way its platform – at
2.2 billion users – can, and will, be misused by
politically motivated groups.
Indeed, Facebook notes that while they are improving, so too
are the groups they’re trying to catch:
“While we’re making progress rooting out this abuse, as
we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge because the people
responsible are determined and well-funded. We constantly have
to improve to stay ahead. That means building better
technology, hiring more people and working more closely with
law enforcement, security experts and other companies.”
In a separate note, Facebook also says that it has
removed more Pages, groups
accounts linked to sources that the US government has
previously identified as Russian military intelligence
“While these are some of the same
bad actors we removed for cybersecurity attacks before the 2016
US election, this more recent activity focused on politics in
Syria and Ukraine. For example, they are associated with Inside
Syria Media Center, which the Atlantic
Council and other organizations have identified
for covertly spreading pro-Russian and pro-Assad content. To
date, we have not found activity by these accounts targeting
Given the results such groups have been seemingly able to
achieve, there’s no doubt more will keep trying, and Facebook,
as noted, will have to work hard to stay ahead of them.