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Fb mentioned Tuesday it pulled down greater than 300 accounts, pages and teams that appeared to have been created by a troll farm in Albania linked to Mojahedin-e Khalq, an exiled militant group that opposes the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The social media big eliminated 128 Fb accounts, 41 pages, 21 teams and 146 Instagram accounts in March for violating its guidelines towards deceptive others about their id and objective on behalf of a international entity. Fb mentioned it discovered “infrastructure connections” between pretend accounts and actual accounts of MEK-linked people and pages from Albania.
“These are a number of the hallmarks of a troll farm, a bodily location the place a collective of operators collectively handle a pool of pretend accounts as a part of an affect operation,” mentioned Ben Nimmo, international IO risk intelligence lead at Fb throughout a press name.
The newest account takedowns underscore Fb’s ongoing battle with pretend accounts on its platform. The corporate has confronted extra stress to fight this drawback after Russian trolls used pretend Fb accounts to sow discord amongst People in the course of the 2016 US presidential election.
The community of accounts primarily posted about Iranian occasions, praising MEK and criticizing the Iranian authorities. The Iranian opposition group, which was exiled to Albania, additionally shared hyperlinks to web sites and social media tied to MEK and commented on posts from information organizations. The pretend accounts used pretend profile images of Iranian celebrities, deceased dissidents, fashions and youngsters. Others used panorama photographs or AI-generated pretend images, Fb mentioned.
The operation did not entice a big following on the social community’s platforms, however tried to get folks to go to web sites related to MEK. Most of those pretend accounts have been created between 2014 and 2016 and have been most exercise in 2017 and the second half of 2020, the social community mentioned. MEK, which is a part of the Nationwide Council of Resistance of Iran, did not instantly reply to a request for remark.
In a press release printed on-line, the NCRI disputed Facebook’s findings. “The declare that there’s a MEK-affiliated troll farm in Albania is ridiculous and completely false,” the group mentioned, including that it is by no means used pretend identities or taken benefit of different folks’s identities. When requested about NCRI’s assertion, Fb reiterated that the corporate discovered hyperlinks between the pretend accounts and MEK.
Fb shared the findings in a month-to-month report that outlines its most up-to-date account takedowns. It eliminated 14 networks of accounts from 11 international locations in March.