Facebook says it dismantles disinformation network tied to Iran’s state media

Hundreds of fake social media accounts covertly spread pro-Iranian messaging.

Iran’s state broadcaster has used hundreds of fake social media accounts to covertly spread pro-Iranian messaging online since at least 2011, targeting voters in countries including Britain and the United States, Facebook said on Tuesday.

In a monthly report of accounts suspended for so-called “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, Facebook said it had removed eight networks in recent weeks, including one with links to the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation (IRIB).

The company also removed a U.S. network of fake accounts linked to QAnon, a fringe group that claims Democrats are behind international crime rings, and a separate U.S.-based campaign with ties to white supremacist websites VDARE and the Unz Review.

Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said both U.S. networks recently began pushing coronavirus-related disinformation, taking advantage of a surge in online interest in the pandemic to promote anti-Semitic and anti-Asian hate speech tied to it.

“We’ve seen people behind these campaigns opportunistically leverage coronavirus-related topics to build an audience and drive people to their pages or off-platform sites,” he said.

The networks also pushed content focused on the upcoming U.S. presidential election, the report said.

Read the article by Jack Stubbs and Katie Paul in iTNews.