Facebook has identified and banned hundreds of accounts, groups and pages engaged in misleading political behavior, a far larger discovery than a “sophisticated” effort it reported three weeks ago with great fanfare.
The social network said Tuesday that it had removed 652 pages, groups, and accounts linked to Russia and, unexpectedly, Iran, for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” that included the sharing of political material.
“These were distinct campaigns and we have not identified any link or coordination between them.
“However, they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.”
Facebook said it got a tip-off about pages from a cybersecurity firm, leading them to deactivate “Liberty Free Press” which had links to Iranian state media.
The statement added: “One part of the network, ‘Quest 4 Truth,’ claims to be an independent Iranian media organization, but is in fact linked to Press TV, an English-language news network affiliated with Iranian state media.”
Mark Zuckerberg’s network has stepped up policing of Facebook since it admitted Russian agents had been able to run politically influential campaigns before the 2016 presidential election.
The new accounts may have been tied to the forthcoming midterm elections in the US.