Iranian trolls who disguised themselves as Proud Boys fans in an attempt to intimidate voters were linked to a disinformation campaign that targeted Israel and Saudi Arabia, according to Facebook.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Facebook announced that it had deleted a handful of accounts on Facebook and Instagram after FBI advice on Iranian election-related interference. The trick followed an announcement by FBI Director Christopher Wray and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe that US intelligence discovered Iran was behind threatening emails to Democratic voters in Florida and Alaska that “you will vote for Trump on election day or we will come after you.”
The company says an initial investigation after the whistleblower led it to a single account set up in October 2020 that “attempted to sow false allegations and unfounded election threats” as part of a relying electoral influence plot. mainly on email.
Further investigation by Facebook led the company to uncover more accounts and pages that were dormant but had been used to spread false allegations about Israel and Saudi Arabia. Among the network’s most sensational claims was a false statement about a fake massacre at the annual Eurovision Music Competition held in Israel in 2019.
Some of the accounts were aimed at reaching reporters, including reporters at an outlet focusing on news from Afghanistan, according to the company.
The network – small compared to others suspended by Facebook with just 12 Facebook accounts, 6 Facebook pages and 11 Instagram accounts with a total of 800 followers – was run by “individuals with ties to the Iranian government,” according to Nathan Gleicher, Responsible for the security of Facebook. The dormant accounts discovered by the Facebook researchers were also linked to a set of previous accounts that the company suspended in April 2019 and attributed to Iran’s state-owned news outlet Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Gleicher said.
Last week, the Treasury Department sanctioned the IUVM and IRTVU – two Iranian fake news umbrella organizations – and the Bayan Rasaneh Gostar Institute, which officials said was a front company of the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Islamic “ready to carry out a series of influence operations directed against the American population before the presidential election.” “
Facebook also announced that it had suspended a larger network that it attributed to “individuals” in Mexico, which recycled old memes from the troll farm of the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), responsible much of Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.
Gleicher, however, warned that the network’s use of old IRA memes “is in itself a limited indicator of who is behind it” and does not necessarily show Russian involvement.
The Mexico-based network was also small with just two Facebook pages and 22 Instagram accounts, and had almost 55,000 followers. Network operators used fake accounts that “pretended to be Americans supporting various social and political causes and attempted to contact others to amplify the content of this operation,” according to the company. When they contacted other Facebook users, the fake accounts claimed to work for a fictitious Polish social media firm.
The memes and content shared by the suspended accounts addressed burning political issues such as race and gender, but also pushed for more generic content on topics such as religion and canine memes.
In addition, Facebook also announced that it has suspended disinformation networks operated from Myanmar and targeting the national Burmese public.
Burmese military officials led a vast network of coordinated and inauthentic Facebook activities that the company suspended in 2018. Until its suspension, the network was used to incite violence against the Rohingya ethnic minority in the country. Myanmar, which UN officials have called genocide and ethnic cleansing.
#Iranian #trolls #masquerading #proud #boys #voter #influence #emails #spreading #wacky #claims #Facebook