Twitter and Facebook dismantle global disinformation networks spreading misleading, false information

In a statement, Twitter Inc and Facebook Inc said, they had taken down more than dozen disinformation networks used by state-backed groups and political entities in multiple countries to deceive users on their platforms.

As part of that effort, they had identified and suspended more than 3,500 accounts between them, which used fake identities and other deceptive behaviors to spread misleading or false information.

Both platforms targeted a wide range of users across a large selection of countries, including the United States where officials have warned of foreign governments trying to influence the outcome of the 2020 November presidential election.

Both social media companies worked closely with U.S. law enforcement to track and dismantle political influence campaigns targeting U.S. voters which have been attributed to foreign states, most notably Russia, China and Iran.

However, the takedowns covered multiple networks with a global reach far beyond the U.S. election. The operations targeted users in at least 16 countries including Azerbaijan, Nigeria and Japan, said Facebook and Twitter.

Following the operation, five networks had been suspended which were linked to groups with ties to the governments of Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Cuba.

“Our goal with these disclosures is to continue to build public understanding around the ways in which state actors try to abuse and undermine open democratic conversation,” said Facebook in a statement.

It went on to add, it had also found 10 networks, some of which it had been previously identified publicly. The networks were predominantly tied to political groups who targeted domestic audiences, including the youth wing of Azerbaijan’s ruling party and that of the Myanmar military.

“Deceptive campaigns like these raise particularly complex issues by blurring the line of a healthy public debate and manipulation,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy.

Facebook has also banned a U.S. marketing firm named Rally Forge, which it said had worked closely with conservative activism organization Turning Point USA and a self-proclaimed environmental group called Inclusive Conservation Group.

Responding to the allegations, Turning Point said it belongs to a separate entity.

“The mistake has been flagged with Facebook’s communication team,” said Turning Point.

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