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Facebook Pulls Plug on Hundreds of Iranian, Russian Accounts

Iran is now 'following Kremlin's playbook' on the disinformation front, one US senator says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2018 5:03 AM CDT
In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square.   (AP)
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(Newser) – Social media platforms have been battening down the hatches against disinformation campaigns, and Facebook just made a new dent. The site announced Tuesday it had yanked 652 pages or groups off Facebook and Instagram showing "coordinated inauthentic behavior" by those seeking to "mislead others about who they were and what they were doing," CNN reports. Per the New York Times, Facebook said the activity (some stretching back to 2011) originated out of Iran and Russia, and that the disinformation this time went after marks in the UK, Latin America, and the Middle East, in addition to US targets. Twitter also announced Tuesday it has shut down nearly 300 of its own bad actors tied to "coordinated manipulation" that originated in Iran. One group that emerged was Liberty Front Press, which was tied to Iranian state media, per Facebook.

"We … learned today that the Iranians are now following the Kremlin's playbook from 2016," Sen. Mark Warner tells CNN. YouTube says it has also taken down a Liberty Front Press channel for breaching community guidelines, though it didn't elaborate. This all went down in the same week Microsoft said it found attempts by Russian hackers to infiltrate US political groups, all bent on "disrupting democracy," per Microsoft President Brad Smith. Cybersecurity firm FireEye, which assisted Facebook in identifying the disinformation-spewing pages, says the propaganda geared toward the US wasn't meant specifically to target the midterms. "Our adversaries are sophisticated and well-funded," Mark Zuckerberg told reporters in a call Tuesday, but he insists the company's "proactive" efforts will "make Facebook safer over time," per the Washington Post. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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