Meta has announced that it took down 134 fake accounts linked with Iran. The accounts were pulled down last December for posting current events including Scotland’s independence from the UK.
The social media giant announced on Thursday that the accounts violated its policies against misleading people or their social network about their purpose and identity using accounts. Instagram had the largest number of accounts pulled down with 126.
Some of the accounts, according to Meta’s global threat intelligence lead for influence operations Ben Nimmo, stole profile pictures from celebrities and media personalities from the UK and Iraq. Others, according to Nimmo in a press conference, appeared to use artificial intelligence to create fake profile pictures.
“In a way, this was more like an old-fashioned pre-internet influence operation, creating detailed fake personas and trying not to be noticed” he said per CNET.
The affected accounts shared criticism of the UK government, but posted content about Saudi Arabia, the US, and Israel occasionally. They were said to have copied scenery photos and videos from real people and political cartoons from newspapers but also created some of the content themselves.
The campaign, according to Nimmo, is an example of a shift away from “mass wholesale posting to a more retail approach.” The accounts also, tried unsuccessfully to contact policymakers and other people in what seemed like part of a tactic to get their profiles noticed. Meta, however, did not see conversations developing.
In a bid to guard against fake news towards the French election in 2017, Facebook clamped down on 30,000 accounts—suspending them for spreading fake news, spam, and misinformation.
Most accounts removed or suspended by Facebook belong to extremists or content violators, and went a long way in placating authorities in France and Europe as a whole. Facebook at the time was under immense pressure in Europe as governments threaten to throw the books at the social media behemoth unless moves are made to deal with fake news and extremism.
Suspending accounts that violates its policy should be one of many steps to deal with fake news, but should not be the only one. Facebook knows this, promised more drastic steps to deal with the menace.
Ahead of the 2017 French election, Facebook rolled out fake news filter to deal with the menace. Facebook, however, was not in this alone, Google too pulled its resources together to ensure a hitch-free election [regards the quality of news] is held in the European country. The Facebook and Google initiatives were rolled out in form of tools aimed at curbing or slowing down the spread of online misinformation.