Facebook removes accounts tied to influence campaign from Iran and Russian Federation

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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". The group was linked to Iranian state media based on website registrations, IP addresses and administrator accounts, Facebook said. The first Liberty Front Press accounts Facebook found were created in 2013.

But not finding a connection between this operation and Russian Federation doesn't mean Facebook hasn't been busy with Putin & Co. The company did not specify how many.

"It's safe to say we have a number of investigations that are going on", Zuckerberg said. In the case of Twitter, the firm announced on Tuesday it had also suspended 284 accounts involved in similar manipulation tactics. "This is unrelated to the activities we found in Iran". Moscow has repeatedly denied using hacking or fake social media accounts to influence foreign elections.

The revelations highlight how Facebook's use as a vessel for disinformation is spreading.

Social media platforms have been battening down the hatches against disinformation campaigns, and Facebook just made a new dent.

"I've been saying for months that there's no way the problem of social media manipulation is limited to a single troll farm in St. Petersburg, and that fact is now beyond a doubt", Senator Mark Warner, D-VA, said in a statement.

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.

Twitter said it had worked "with our industry peers" to identify the accounts, and reiterated promises to engage "with other companies and relevant law enforcement entities". Facebook did not reveal all the details of the latest investigations, such as the names of all the hundreds of fake accounts and examples of posts that they shared on the social network and Instagram.

FireEye said the Iranian activity did not appear "dedicated" to influencing the upcoming election, though some of the posts aimed at US users did adopt "left-leaning identities" and took stances against US President Donald Trump. Politicians attributed the activity to Russian Federation. "This demonstrates that there are other actors out there who appear to see value in engaging in such activity to shape political discourse".

The final set of pages that were removed can be linked to sources previously identified by the US government as having ties to Russian military intelligence services.

IS chief urges followers to wage 'jihad' in new recording
Baghdadi also appeared to criticise a $100-million pledge by Saudi Arabia in the previous week to help rebuild Syria's northeast. The Pentagon said in a recent report as many as 17,100 ISIL fighters remain in Iraq and 14,000 in Syria.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company was able to identify this damaging content because of its heavy investments in improving safety, security and privacy on the platform ahead of the midterm elections in the U.S. It's also working to foster greater cooperation with law-enforcement and governments, to aid in the crackdown.

Facebook and Twitter say they have suspended or removed accounts linked to Iran and Russian Federation over "inauthentic" or "manipulating" behaviour. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, is expected to testify on Facebook's progress alongside other companies in Congress on September 5. It also found a number of new pages connected to Russian Federation.

"These operations extend well beyond those conducted by Russian Federation, which has often been the focus of research into information operations over recent years". His comments came in prepared remarks submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Moss also told lawmakers that "Tehran probably views cyberattacks as a versatile tool to respond to perceived provocations, despite Iran's recent restraint from conducting cyber attacks against the USA or Western allies". The agency bought thousands of ads targeting Americans, often with rubles, and created posts that reached 126 million Americans, frequently with divisive messages.

The majority of Facebook's removals were pages, groups, and numerous Facebook and Instagram accounts connected to pages traced to operators located in Iran.

Facebook said there were 74 pages on its platform associated with 70 accounts, three Facebook groups, and 76 Instagram accounts.

Microsoft said this week that hackers linked to the Russian government sought to steal email login credentials from USA politicians and think tanks, allegations the Russian foreign ministry described as a "witch-hunt".

Over the last two years, 84 websites have been taken down by the company's digital crimes unit.

"So this is really serious".

"The reason we do this is to make sure that our fight against misinformation is as effective as possible".

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