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. 

Working with our industry peers today, we have suspended 284 accounts from Twitter for engaging in coordinated manipulation. Based on our existing analysis, it appears many of these accounts originated from Iran.

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) August 22, 2018

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less

The culprit of increased depression among teens? Smartphones, new research suggests.

A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.

A teenager eyes her smartphone as people enjoy a warm day on the day of silence, one day prior to the presidential elections, when candidates and political parties are not allowed to voice their political meaning on April 14, 2018 in Kotor, Montenegro. Citizens from Montenegro, the youngest NATO member, will vote for a new president on Sunday 15 2018. (Photo by Pierre Crom/Getty Images)
Surprising Science
  • In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
  • The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
  • Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. reacts to New Zealand's gun ban

On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
  • Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
  • The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
Keep reading Show less