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Facebook says political influence campaign tied to Iranian state media

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Dirty deeds.
Dirty deeds.

Image: Dominic Lipinski – PA Images/getty

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. 

On Tuesday afternoon Facebook released yet another detailed look at an elaborate political influence campaign taking advantage of its platform. According to the social media giant, this time around Iranian state media attempted to use the power of Facebook to shape political opinions around the globe. Oh, and there was some more Russian stuff, too. 

This, of course, is just three weeks after Facebook revealed in another blog post a separate campaign run by so-called “inauthentic” accounts with the goal of influencing U.S. politics.  

But don’t let this newfound focus on Iran trick you into thinking that the Russia-linked Internet Research Agency has stopped attempting to use the power of Facebook to influence foreign elections. According to Facebook, it probably hasn’t.

“[We’ve] removed Pages, groups and accounts that can be linked to sources the US government has previously identified as Russian military intelligence services,” read the company’s blog post. “This is unrelated to the activities we found in Iran.”

Speaking of Iran, Facebook noted the removal of scores of accounts and pages that it claims exhibited “coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram” — at least some of which the company claims were tied to Iranian state media. 

Founded in a dorm room.

Founded in a dorm room.

“We’ve removed 652 Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US,” read the blog post, which gave credit to cybersecurity firm FireEye for helping Facebook uncover a network of bad actors. 

“Based on FireEye’s tip, we started an investigation into ‘Liberty Front Press’ and identified additional accounts and Pages from their network,” continued the announcement. “We are able to link this network to Iranian state media through publicly available website registration information, as well as the use of related IP addresses and Facebook Pages sharing the same admins.”

Basically, every shady government or quasi-government agency is attempting to get in on the Facebook-enabled misinformation fun. 

Maybe keep that in mind the next time you check your News Feed.

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