Facebook takes down Iranian accounts trying to manipulate users

said it removed 783 pages, groups and accounts linked to Iran that were attempting to manipulate political discussions on its site about current events, like the Israel-Palestine conflict and the wars in Syria and Yemen.

The company said Thursday the accounts and page administrators typically represented themselves as locals in at least 26 countries, including Iraq, Israel, Afghanistan and the U.S., but posted messages that repeated the content of state media.

The content included 262 pages, 356 accounts and 3 groups on Facebook, and 162 accounts on Instagram. The groups spent less than $30,000 in Facebook advertising, but 2 million Facebook followed at least one of their pages.

Facebook said it has shared information about the campaign, which started in 2010, with law enforcement officials in the U.S. and the affected countries. “Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our manual review linked these accounts to Iran,” Facebook said in a blog post.

On a call with the media, Facebook said it became aware of the extent of the campaign by sharing notes with Twitter, which also said it removed accounts potentially linked to Iran, Russia and Venezuela as part of its 2018 U.S. midterm election review.

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