Facebook, Twitter remove thousands of accounts linked to Iran

Source: The Hill | January 31, 2019 | Emily Birnbaum and Harper Neidig

Facebook and Twitter on Thursday announced that they have removed thousands of accounts associated with an Iranian disinformation campaign across their platforms. 

Facebook said it has removed 262 Iranian-linked pages, 356 accounts and three groups from Facebook and 162 accounts from Instagram, which it owns. And Twitter announced a takedown of 2,617 accounts it believed to have originated in Iran, along with thousands more from Russia and Venezuela.

“The Page administrators and account owners typically represented themselves as locals, often using fake accounts, and posted news stories on current events,” Facebook said in a statement. 

In a blog post, Facebook said that it discovered activity on both Facebook and Instagram and that the accounts had spent around $30,000 on advertising. The activity on those platforms dated back as early as 2010.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said on a call with reporters that the discovery was made due to the help of partnerships with other companies like Twitter.

Twitter said it had found almost 1,200 Venezuela-linked accounts that appeared to be part of a “state-backed influence campaign targeting domestic audiences,” and another 764 accounts that appear to be part of an influence campaign similar to the one conducted by a Russian troll farm.

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