Facebook, Twitter remove hundreds of malicious accounts

Indo Asian News Service

San Francisco, Feb 1 (IANS) Facebook and Twitter have taken down multiple Pages, groups and accounts from Iran, Russia, Bangladesh and Venezuela that engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour on their platforms.

Facebook removed 783 pages, groups and accounts that it said was directed from Iran, in some cases repurposing Iranian state media content, and engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour targeting people across the world, more heavily in the Middle East and South Asia.

"About 2 million accounts followed at least one of these Pages on Facebook, about 1,600 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and more than 254,000 accounts followed at least one of these Instagram accounts," Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy said in a blog post late Thursday.

Some of the activities on these accounts dates back to 2010.

"Less than $30,000 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram paid for primarily in US dollars, UK pounds, Canadian dollars, and euros. We have not completed our review of the organic content coming from these accounts," said Facebook.

The suspected Pages hosted eight events. "Up to 210 people expressed interest in at least one of these events. We cannot confirm whether any of these events actually occurred," said Gleicher.

According to Yoel Roth, Head of Site Integrity at Twitter, they identified and suspended a very small number of accounts originating from Bangladesh for engaging in coordinated platform manipulation.

"The Tweets were entirely in Bengali and focused on regional political themes," he wrote in a separate blog post.

Twitter also identified and suspended 2,617 additional malicious originated in Iran.

Twitter has suspended a total of 3,843 accounts from Russia.

"Our ongoing efforts have uncovered an additional 418 accounts. We cannot render definitive attribution to the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA) for these accounts, although most appear to originate in Russia," said Twitter.

It also said it removed 764 accounts located in Venezuela, where there was major political upheaval.

"Additionally, we have removed 1,196 accounts located in Venezuela which appear to be engaged in a state-backed influence campaign targeting domestic audiences," said the micro-blogging platform.

--IANS

na/in