Facebook removes pages with ‘inauthentic behavior’ linked to Iran

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday announced his company removed more than 650 Pages, groups and accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on Facebook and Instagram.

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Zuckerberg said some of the accounts were linked to state-owned media in Iran and, according to the U.S. government, other accounts were linked to Russian military intelligence services.

“We’ve been investigating some of these campaigns for months — which highlights the tension we face in every investigation between removing bad actors quickly and improving our defenses over time,” Zuckerberg said in a statement. “If we remove them too early, it’s harder to understand their playbook and the extent of their network. It can also make it harder for law enforcement who are running their own investigations.”

Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of Facebook’s cybersecurity policy, said the company’s findings were largely based on a tip from FireEye, a cybersecurity firm.

FireEye said the activity originating out of Iran targeted audiences in the the U.S., Britain, Latin America, and the Middle East and included news sites and memes “to promote political narratives in line with Iranian interests.”

“These narratives include anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran, such as the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal,” FireEye said.

Although FireEye said Russia has been a focus of its research in recent years, the company did not include any Russia-related activity in this assessment.

Facebook said it is working closely with the U.S. government on ongoing investigations to target further “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on its platforms.