Facebook said on Friday it had deleted Balances Coming in Iran that attracted more than 1 million US and British followers, its Most Recent effort to combat disinformation Action on Its Own platform.
Social networking companies are fighting to prevent efforts by individuals within and outside the United States to distribute false information about their platforms with targets ranging from destabilising elections by stoking hardline positions to supporting propaganda campaigns.
Facebook stated it eliminated 82 pages, accounts and groups on Facebook and Instagram which represented themselves as being British or American citizens, then posted “politically charged” topics like race relations, opposition to US President Donald Trump and spiritual, Facebook’s mind of cyber-security policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a blog post.
In total, the eliminated accounts brought over 1 million followers. The Iran-linked posts were amplified through less than $100 in advertising on Facebook and Instagram, Facebook said.
While the accounts came in Iran, it was unclear whether they were linked to the Tehran authorities, according to Facebook, which shared the information with researchers, other tech businesses and the British and US authorities.
The activity follows takedowns in August by Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet of countless accounts linked to Iranian propaganda.
The latest operation was more sophisticated in some cases, making it difficult to spot, Gleicher said through a press conference phone call on Friday.
Although most of pages and accounts had existed only since earlier this year, they attracted more followers than the accounts removed in August, some of which dated back into 2013. The previously suspended Iranian accounts and pages obtained approximately 983,000 followers before being eliminated.
“It looks like the intention was to embed in highly engaged and active communities by posting content that is inflammatory, then insert messaging Saudi and Israel which amplified the Iranian administration’s narrative,” said Ben Nimmo, an info defence fellow with the Digital Forensic Research Lab.
“The majority of the posts concerned divisive issues in america, and published a progressive viewpoint, especially on race relations and police violence,” Nimmo said.
Social networking companies have targeted international interference on their platforms following criticism that they didn’t do enough to detect, stop and disclose Russian attempts to utilize their platforms to influence the results of their 2016 US presidential race.
Iran and Russia have denied allegations that they have utilized social media platforms to launch disinformation campaigns.