the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities,
our review found links to individuals associated with the Government of
Saudi Arabia," Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at
Facebook, said in a statement late Thursday.
networking platform found two separate operations: one of which
originated in the UAE and Egypt, and another in Saudi Arabia.
two campaigns we removed were unconnected, but both created networks of
Accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were
doing," said Gleicher.
Facebook removed 217 Facebook Accounts,
144 Facebook Pages, five Facebook Groups and 31 Instagram Accounts
originating from Saudi Arabia that focused primarily on the Middle East
and Northern Africa, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt,
Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon and Jordan.
The Page admins and
Account owners typically posted in Arabic about regional news and
political issues, including topics like the Crown Prince Mohammad bin
Salman, his economic and social reform plan 'Vision 2030' and successes
of the Saudi Armed Forces, particularly during the conflict in Yemen,"
They also frequently shared criticism of
neighbouring countries including Iran, Qatar and Turkey, and called into
question the credibility of Al-Jazeera news network and Amnesty
About 1.4 million Accounts followed one or more of
these Pages and around $108,000 spent on Facebook and Instagram ads
paid for in Saudi riyal and US dollars, said Facebook.
also removed 259 Facebook Accounts, 102 Facebook Pages, five Facebook
Groups, four Facebook Events and 17 Instagram Accounts from the UAE and
Egypt for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour focused on a
number of countries, primarily in the Middle East and some in North and
"The people behind this network used compromised and
fake accounts -- the majority of which had already been detected and
disabled by our automated systems -- to run Pages, disseminate their
content, comment in Groups and artificially increase engagement,"
These accounts also impersonated public
figures and managed Pages -- some of which changed names and admins --
posing as local news organisations in targeted countries and promoting
content about UAE.
"Although the people behind this activity
attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to
two marketing firms -- New Waves in Egypt and Newave in the UAE," said
More than 13.7 million Accounts followed one or more of
these Pages. "About $167,000 spent on Facebook ads were paid for
primarily in US dollars and Emirati dirhams," said Facebook.
The removed Accounts also included 48 Instagram Accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behaviour.