Facebook, Twitter remove Iran-linked fake accounts

Last Updated: Wed, May 29, 2019 13:35 hrs
FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo is seen on a wall at a start-up companies gathering at Paris' Station F in Paris

San Francisco: Facebook has removed fake accounts that originated in Iran and several of those presented themselves as journalists associated with top media houses.

In a statement, Twitter said it has also removed at least 2,800 inauthentic accounts from Iran since May.

"We removed 51 Facebook accounts, 36 Pages, seven Groups and three Instagram accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour that originated in Iran," Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy, said in a statement late Tuesday.

The individuals behind this activity purported to be located in the US and Europe, used fake accounts to run Pages and Groups, and impersonated legitimate news organisations in the Middle East.

"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.

A number of these account owners also attempted to contact authentic Instagram accounts, some of which later posted content associated with this activity.

The posts from these Pages and accounts discussed topics like public figures and politics in the US and the UK, US secessionist movements, Islam, Arab minorities in Iran and the influence of Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.

About 21,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 1,900 accounts joined one or more of these Groups and around 2,600 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.

Facebook removed these fake accounts on a tip shared by FireEye, a US cyber security firm.

According to Yoel Roth, Head of Site Integrity at Twitter, they have removed more than 2,800 inauthentic accounts originating in Iran.

"These are the accounts that FireEye, a private security firm, reported on today. We were not provided with this report or its findings," Roth tweeted.