Accounts Linked To Russia And Iran Campaigns Removed By Facebook And Twitter

Facebook and Twitter accounts that were reportedly linked to Iran and Russia were removed by the social media platforms because those accounts were either “inauthentic” or were engaged in “manipulating” behavior, said the company,

According to founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, over 650 Facebook pages and groups had been identified to be “misleading”.

On the other hand, 284 accounts with apparent links to Iran had been suspended on twitter, the company said.

It was just a day before these developments that there were claims by Microsoft that it had avoided Russian cyber-attacks against US conservative groups.

Facebook said that multiple accounts that showed “inauthentic behavior” in relation to campaigns with their origins in Iran and Russia were discovered by it after investigating the issue for “many months”.

“We ban this kind of behaviour because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make,” the company said in a statement.

People using a number of internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, the UK and the US were apparently the target of the campaigns, said the social media network even though the investigations in to the issue was still in progress.

Cyber security firm FireEye sparked off the Facebook and Twitter investigations after the firm tipped off the social media companies about what it called were multiple suspected accounts on the social media platforms that were engaged in the promotion of Iranian propaganda.

According to the Facebook statement, the accounts were then linked by Facebook to Iranian state media. That included 76 Instagram pages.

Facebook further added that it had also traced “misleading behaviour” to Russia but that activity was not apparently linked to the Iranian campaign that had been uncovered by the social media company.

Content about Middle East politics in Arabic and Farsi was part of some of the campaigns, which date back to 2011. Facebook said that politics in the UK and the US in English were also part of the content that was shared by the accounts.

The sire also removed some other accounts that linked to sources previously identified by the US government as Russian military intelligence services.

The US and UK governments were informed about the findings by the company, Facebook said.

On the other hand, Twitter said that its investigations of a large number of accounts suggested “co-ordinated manipulation”.

An attempt by Russian hackers to steal data from political organization which included the International Republican Institute and the Hudson Institute think tanks was made, said Microsoft on Monday.

But the US tech giant assured that the attempts were stopped following its security staff managing to win control of six net domains mimicking their websites.

Fancy Bear hacking group had been behind the attacks, Microsoft said.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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