Facebook Removes 783 Fake Pages, Accounts Tied to Iran

The logo for Facebook appears in March 2018 on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. Photo: Richard Drew / Associated Press
The logo for Facebook appears in March 2018 on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. Photo: Richard Drew / Associated Press

NEW YORK — Facebook says it has removed 783 Iran-linked pages, accounts and groups from its service for what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That’s the social network’s term for fake accounts run with the intent of disrupting politics and elections.

Facebook has been disclosing such purges more regularly in recent months, including ones linked to groups in MyanmarBangladesh and Russia.

The accounts on Facebook and Instagram typically misrepresented themselves as locals in more than two dozen countries ranging from Afghanistan, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.

Facebook said Thursday the accounts spent about USD$30,000 on advertisements, paid for in U.S. dollars, British pounds, Canadian dollars and euros.

The company said Twitter helped its investigation by sharing information about suspicious activity it found on its own service. The companies, along with others in the tech industry, have been cooperating more when it comes to such account takedowns by sharing information.

Such cooperation can help the companies avoid regulatory scrutiny by showing critics and lawmakers that they can set aside differences when it comes to battling outside threats that affect their users.

The latest removed accounts, Facebook said, typically represented themselves as locals in various countries, often using fake accounts and posting news stories on current events. This included using stories from Iranian state media about conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Story: Barbara Ortutay