Facebook, Instagram ban nearly 800 Iranian trolls, pages, groups engaged in anti-Israel propaganda

Facebook says it has removed 783 Iran-linked pages, accounts and groups from its service for what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That’s the social network’s term for fake accounts run with the intent of disrupting politics and elections.

Much of the content posted across these groups and pages spread pro-Iranian messages and were engaged in demonizing Israel, anti-Israel propaganda and fake news regarding Prime Minister Netanyahu and his family ahead of the Israeli elections.

In total, Facebook identified 262 pages, 356 accounts, and three groups that were involved in the coordinated inauthentic behavior by Iran. There were 162 Instagram accounts that were identified as well.

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Facebook has disclosed such purges more regularly in recent months, including ones linked to groups in Myanmar, Bangladesh, and Russia.

The accounts on Facebook and Instagram typically misrepresented themselves as locals in more than two dozen countries ranging from Afghanistan, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S.

According to Facebook, about 2 million accounts followed at least one of the Iranian Facebook pages and around 1,600 others had joined the groups. More than 254,000 accounts followed the Instagram profiles.

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Facebook says the accounts spent about $30,000 on advertisements, paid for in U.S. dollars, British pounds, Canadian dollars, and euros.

These Iranian accounts were discovered as part of a larger investigation that resulted in other Iranian accounts being removed last year. In October, Facebook removed 82 other pages, groups, and accounts originating from Iran which targeted people in the US.

The company says Twitter helped its investigation by sharing information about suspicious activity it found on its own service.