Facebook removes 652 more fake pages created by operatives in Iran and Russia

It’s a start. More to come?

Facebook has announced that it removed 652 pages, groups, and accounts created by operatives in Iran and Russia that were designed to foment mistrust and false narratives during the upcoming election cycle here in the United States and in other parts of the world. 

Of course, it’s very much aware of the use of similar activities during the 2016 U.S. election to influence and possibly change the outcomes, as well as the Brexit vote. The accounts and pages display what Facebook refers to as “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”

The targets? People in the Middle East, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the U.S. 

"These were distinct campaigns and we have not identified any link or coordination between them," the company said. "However, they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing."

Coming directly on the heels of Facebook removing 32 accounts and pages directly related to the U.S. 2018 elections, it’s a nod to the company’s efforts to change things before November. 

Figure 1: Connections among components of suspected Iranian influence operation. Image by security company FireEye, which helped discover the pages.

In a phone call after the blog post about the 652 page and account removals, Zuckerberg indicated that it is as important to deepen relationships with governments, law enforcement officials, and even other countries in order to exchange information as it is for the company to develop its own tools for weeding out problematic content.

"We think that there's a lot of good work happening on both of those fronts," Zuckerberg said. "This is a top priority for our company."

126 million people saw the content that was published in the 2016 election cycle generated by similar fake accounts in an effort to both generate incendiary comments and division around social and political issues, as well as organizing actual demonstrations and real-world events about issues that, in reality, did not exist. 

The pages aren’t simply on Facebook, however; largely sponsored by an organization named Liberty Front Press, the misinformation came from web pages, Twitter accounts, and paid-for ads on Instagram. For its part, Twitter pretty quickly also removed accounts from the same set of political operatives of Iran and Russia. 

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

A new study says alcohol changes how the brain creates memories

A study on flies may hold the key to future addiction treatments.

Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Mind & Brain
  • A new study suggests that drinking alcohol can affect how memories are stored away as good or bad.
  • This may have drastic implications for how addiction is caused and how people recall intoxication.
  • The findings may one day lead to a new form of treatment for those suffering from addiction.
Keep reading Show less

Juice is terrible for children. Why do we keep giving it to them?

A glass of juice has as much sugar, ounce for ounce, as a full-calorie soda. And those vitamins do almost nothing.

Pixabay user Stocksnap

Quick: think back to childhood (if you've reached the scary clown you've gone too far). What did your parents or guardians give you to keep you quiet? If you're anything like most parents, it was juice. But here's the thing: juice is bad for you. 

Keep reading Show less

Heatwaves significantly impact male fertility, says huge study

As the world gets hotter, men may have fewer and fewer viable sperm

Surprising Science
  • New research on beetles shows that successive exposure to heatwaves reduces male fertility, sometimes to the point of sterility.
  • The research has implications both for how the insect population will sustain itself as well as how human fertility may work on an increasingly hotter Earth.
  • With this and other evidence, it is becoming clear that more common and more extreme heatwaves may be the most dangerous aspect of climate change.
Keep reading Show less