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Facebook Removes Hundreds of Accounts Over ‘Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior’

Company says many of the accounts were linked to Russia or Iran

Facebook has removed hundreds of pages and accounts on Facebook and Instagram due to what it called “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” Nathaniel Gleicher, the company’s  head of cybersecurity, said Tuesday in a post to the company news blog.

According to Gleicher, some of the removed accounts “originated” in Iran or Russia. However, Gleicher clarified that these were “distinct campaigns,” and that Facebook didn’t identify “any link or coordination between them.”

The company removed 652 Facebook and Instagram accounts associated with “Liberty Front Press,” which it says it linked 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.” These pages primarily posted political content connected to the Middle East, the UK, U.S., and Latin America.

Facebook says it also found links between “Liberty Front Press” and “another set of accounts and pages” created in 2016 that, according to Gleicher, posed as news organizations and conducted cybersecurity attacks. In all, Facebook says, about 170,000 users followed pages tied to “Liberty Front Press.”

The purge stems from a tip Facebook says it received from cybersecurity firm FireEye last month.

Separately, Facebook removed an undisclosed amount of pages tied to Russian military intelligence, the company said. The company said its working with law enforcement on its investigation into the removed accounts.

Last month, Facebook removed dozens of accounts it suspected of politically manipulating users.