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Facebook removes some Russian, Iranian accounts for spreading fake memes

Facebook has removed fake accounts originating from Russia, Iran, Vietnam, and Myanmar because of “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” 

The social network announced in a Wednesday blog post from Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, the removal of pages, groups, and accounts from both Facebook and Instagram that originated in these countries. The behavior was reportedly on behalf of a government or foreign actor. 

The 11 Iran-based accounts that were removed were focused mainly on the U.S. Those who posted on these accounts attempted to contact public figures and shared political news topics about U.S. elections and U.S. immigration policy. 

The Russian accounts targeted Ukraine and purported to be from local people and citizen journalists. These comprised 78 Facebook accounts, 11 pages, 29 groups, and four Instagram accounts. The Myanmar and Vietnam accounts and pages, totaling 23, were aimed at those located in Myanmar. 

Actual examples of these posts included people posting anti-Trump videos to other groups, pages posting articles, and even memes to grab followers’ attention. 

According to Facebook, those behind the fake Myanmar and Vietnam accounts reached the most accounts, about 265,000, on the social network. 

“We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these pages, groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted,” Gleicher wrote. “In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action.”

Facebook describes “coordinated inauthentic behavior” as “when groups of pages or people work together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing.” 

In the past, Facebook has taken down accounts originating in the Middle East, Thailand, Ukraine, Honduras, Spain, Israel, China, and elsewhere. 

Facebook said it’s making progress at identifying these fake accounts, but, especially in an election year, it’s troubling that so many people can be reached by fake accounts promoting manipulative information. 

Digital Trends reached out to Facebook to find out how it is planning to prevent, rather than spot, fake accounts like these as the election nears. We will update this story when we hear back. 

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