Iranian-Linked Social Media Users Impersonated 2018 US Candidates

Facebook removes Iranian-linked accounts citing ‘inauthentic behavior

Iranian-Linked Social Media Users Impersonated 2018 US Candidates

"This Iranian active measures campaign shows that third-party adversaries have learned a lesson from 2016, disinformation works, and it works best when combining social media with old-school local newspaper outreach", Thomas Rid, a professor at Johns Hopkins who studies government disinformation campaigns, told CNN. The company disclosed that it removed a staggering 2.2 billion fake accounts in Q1 2019 alone.

"The individuals also represented themselves as journalists or other personas and tried to contact policymakers, reporters, academics, Iranian dissidents and other public figures", said Facebook.

In a statement, Twitter said it has removed at least 2,800 inauthentic accounts from Iran since May, though it wasn't privy to the specifics of the FireEye report. Instagram is owned by Facebook.

Some of the disabled accounts appeared to target their propaganda at specific journalists, policymakers, dissidents and other influential USA figures online.

The people behind the activity misled people about who they are and their intentions, Facebook explained in a blog post, sometimes representing themselves as journalists.

Facebook content was posted in English or Arabic. They discussed public figures in the US and UK, US secessionist movements, Islam, Arab minorities in Iran and the influence of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

A Twitter spokesperson told US media that it removed 2,800 accounts that were part of the newly identified network in early May.

Once again, Facebook took down an Iranian disinformation network of fake accounts engaging in "inauthentic behavior".

The pages were part of a campaign to promote Iranian interests in various countries by creating fake identities as residents of those nations, Gleicher said at the time. Fake Facebook Accounts: the Never-ending Battle Against Bots.

Facebook has taken down numerous networks of similar accounts since mid-2017.

Late previous year, Facebook took down accounts linked to an Iranian bid to influence U.S. and British politics with messages about charged topics such as immigration and race relations.

The social network began looking into these kinds of activities after revelations of Russian influence campaigns during the 2016 USA election aimed at sowing discord.

Lee Foster, a researcher with FireEye, said he found some of the fake personas - often masquerading as American journalists - had successfully convinced several US news outlets to publish letters to the editor, guest columns and blog posts.

IRGC is a branch of Iran's armed forces and the Trump administration's designation of the group as a foreign terrorist organization was the first time the United States has so labeled the national military of another country.

The users also promoted material in support of Iranian political interests.

Iran's Foreign Minister says his country won't negotiate with President Donald Trump unless the U.S. honors its commitments under the disputed nuclear deal. "The investigation is ongoing". Facebook expanded on its efforts to combat fake accounts in a transparency report, stating that it has seen a steep increase in "abusive fake accounts" fueled by "automated, scripted attacks" on Facebook in the last six months, even though most are detected and deleted minutes after registration.

The imposter Twitter accounts often plagiarized messages from the politicians' legitimate accounts, but also mixed in posts voicing support for policies believed to be favorable to Tehran.

The candidates impersonated included Marla Livengood who was beaten in the 9th district of California by Rep.

The New York Daily News and Seattle Times didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

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