Facebook has removed 652 Pages, accounts, and groups linked to Iran and Russia that it says engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a press briefing on Tuesday that “there’s a lot we don’t know yet” about the motives behind the activity and he did not say whether the groups had spread fake news or propaganda. He would only say that the people behind the accounts were intentionally “misleading people about who they were and what they were doing.”
“Authenticity matters,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook said that that the Iranian entities targeted Facebook users in Middle East, Latin America, the United Kingdom, and the United States, but it did not cite specific examples of what the organizations had attempted to do.
The company said in a corporate blog post that one unnamed group linked to Iran shared unspecified “content” about “Middle East politics in Arabic and Farsi.” The same organization also shared “content about politics in the UK and US in English,” but didn’t elaborate further.
Facebook said that it had briefed the U.S. and U.K. governments as well as the U.S. Treasury and State Departments because of ongoing U.S. sanctions against Iran.
Zuckerberg said that the company understands that “2018 is a very important election year” and reiterated some of the steps the company is taking to prevent bad actors from sowing discord on its service, like using machine learning technology to filter misleading content.
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“So this is really serious,” he said. This is a top priority for the company.”