Social media organizations are fighting to stop efforts by individuals inside and outside the United States to spread false information about their platforms with goals which range from destabilising elections by stoking hardline positions to supporting propaganda campaigns.
Facebook said it eliminated 82 pages, accounts and groups on Facebook and Instagram that represented themselves as being British or American citizens, then posted “politically charged” subjects such as race relations, opposition to US President Donald Trump and spiritual, Facebook’s head of cyber-security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, stated in a blog post.
In total, the removed accounts attracted over 1 million followers. The Iran-linked posts were amplified through significantly less than $100 in ads on Facebook and Instagram, Facebook explained.
While the accounts came in Iran, it was unclear if they were connected to the Tehran government, based on Facebook, which shared the information with investigators, other technology companies and the British and US governments.
The Iranian UN mission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The action follows takedowns in August by Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet of countless accounts linked to Iranian propaganda.
The most recent operation was more sophisticated in some cases, which makes it hard to spot, Gleicher said through a media conference phone call on Friday.
Even though most of accounts and pages had existed only since earlier this season, they brought more followers than the accounts eliminated in August, a few of which dated back into 2013. The previously suspended Iranian pages and accounts garnered roughly 983,000 followers before being removed.
“It resembles the intention was to embed in exceptionally engaged and active communities by posting inflammatory content, then insert messaging Saudi and Israel which amplified the Iranian government’s story,” said Ben Nimmo, an info defence fellow using the Digital Forensic Research Lab.
“Most of the articles concerned divisive issues in america, and published a progressive viewpoint, especially on race relations and police violence,” Nimmo said.
Social media companies have targeted international interference in their platforms following criticism that they did not do enough to discover, stop and disclose Russian attempts to utilize their platforms to affect the results of their 2016 US presidential race.
Iran and Russia have denied allegations they’ve used social media platforms to launch disinformation campaigns.