Karissa Bell

Fb banned an Albanian troll farm supporting exiled Iranian militants

Fb took down greater than 1,000 pretend accounts in March, together with a couple of hundred that have been tied to a troll farm in Albania. The corporate shared the takedowns as a part of its on coordinated inauthentic habits on the platform.

In its report, Fb named 14 completely different networks of faux accounts that have been eliminated throughout the month of March. The pretend accounts originated in numerous international locations, together with Iran, Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Egypt, Israel, Benin, Georgia, Comoros and El Salvador.

The corporate notes that the majority of those weren’t notably profitable, and lots of the accounts have been eliminated earlier than they might amass a big following. “This is an ongoing pattern we have seen where we see threat actors continuing to try to use these techniques to manipulate public debates on our platforms, and off our platform more broadly on the internet,” Fb’s Head of Safety Coverage Nathaniel Gleicher mentioned throughout a name with reporters. “But because of the defensive efforts of teams, not just at Facebook, but around industry, in civil society and in government, we’re seeing them get less and less traction.”

Fb additionally detailed its investigation right into a troll farm in Albania, which ran 128 Fb accounts and 146 Instagram pages. The corporate mentioned it tied the troll farm to an exiled Iranian militant group that’s now based mostly in Albania. The pretend accounts “targeted primarily Iran and also global audiences with content related to Iran,” and “put particular effort” into luring its followers to web sites tied to the militant teams.

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The accounts had gained about 9,000 followers on Fb and 112,000 on Instagram. Fb says the accounts have been “most active” in 2017, however that it noticed an uptick in exercise throughout the second half of final yr. The corporate notes that its investigation turned up a number of “hallmarks” of a troll farm that indicated the exercise was all coming from a single location. Ben Nimmo, Fb’s International IO Menace Intelligence Lead, mentioned that the accounts all posted usually on the identical schedule, with spikes within the morning and night, with what seemed to be a lunch break in the midst of the day. “When you combine the daily posting pattern with the way the accounts are connected technically, it really looks like a team of trolls that are hot desking,” Nimmo mentioned.

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