Facebook tombs several networks of fake accounts from Iran and Russia to influence the 2020 US elections

  • The social network eliminates almost a hundred fraudulent profiles on its platform, and another 50 on Instagram, which tried to influence American public opinion
  • They commented from both ends of the political spectrum on the politics of the US, Palestine, Yemen, racial tensions or LGBT issues
  • Facebook also discouraged other networks of fake accounts that disseminated misinformation in South America and North Africa

Facebook announced on Monday that it has eliminated four networks of fake accounts, three of them coordinated from Iran and another from Russia, which led to disinformation campaigns on this social network and on Instagram. They were composed in a total of 135 accounts, 26 pages, and 4 Facebook groups, as well as 71 Instagram accounts. Although they acted in various parts of the world, the larger Iranian network was focused on influencing American public opinion in the face of the 2020 elections, as was the Russian campaign.

The swarm of fake Iranian accounts aimed at the US was made up of 93 accounts, 17 pages, and 4 Instagram accounts. Some of the fraudulent profiles also distributed information in French to North Africa. ” The administrators of these pages and the owners of the accounts published local political and geopolitical news, including issues about public figures in the US, politics in the US and Israel, support for Palestine and the Yemen conflict,” explained Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity of Facebook.

The disinfusion network operated from Russia, consisting of fifty fake Instagram profiles, focused on influencing US public opinion. ” The people behind this operation often published from both sides of the political spectrum on various issues, including issues such as the US elections, environmental problems, racial tensions, LGBTQ issues, political candidates, Confederate ideas, conservatism, and liberalism,” Gleicher said…

Facebook reports that the fake profiles that were part of this Russian disinformation campaign had 260,000 followers in total, 60% of which were in the US. The head of social network security says that this campaign had “some links with the Internet Research Agency (IRA)”, the company that organized online public debate poisoning campaigns around the 2016 US elections.

Another of the fake account networks that the social network places in Iran was also focused on the US, but it was smaller. It was made up of 4 Facebook accounts, 3 pages, and 7 Instagram accounts. In this case, its action was to try to redirect Facebook users to an off-platform page, called BLMNews, which was posing as a news entity. Racial relations in the United States were criticized as well as Donald Trump and Israel’s policy on Iran, while issues concerning the Black Lives Matter movement, African-American culture, and Iranian foreign policy were discussed, the Facebook statement said.

Finally, the Facebook cybersecurity team deactivated a network that operated in several South American countries, such as Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Mexico. The individuals who starred in this campaign “pretended to be local citizens, used fake accounts to comment in groups and manage pages that posed as a means of communication, as well as to redirect traffic off the platform,” Gleicher said. This network originated in Iran, was made up of 38 Facebook accounts, 6 pages, 4 groups, and 10 Instagram profiles and was dedicated to replicating content from the Iranian media controlled by the State on topics such as Hezbollah and tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine or Iran and the USA.

The social network, which on Monday also revealed its new strategies to fight against misinformation and foreign interference in the 2020 US elections, established the policy of communicating its actions against the false account plots that act on its platform after the scandal of electoral manipulation starring Cambridge Analytica. Although this company was British, Facebook signed a collaboration agreement with the Atlantic Council, a think tank in the orbit of NATO funded by vulture funds and weapons companies and specialized in investigating the campaigns of US geostrategic enemies.

Since its pact with this organization, most of the disinformation campaigns reported by the social network have come from Russia, Iran or China. One of the few exceptions was the PP in September when it became the first European political party to be targeted by Facebook for organizing an intoxication campaign through fake accounts. Months before eldiario.es revealed that Pablo Casado’s party carried out the same strategy on another social network, Twitter, facing the general, local and European elections last spring.

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