On August 21, Facebook brought down 652 pages, accounts and groups after it identified them as part of coordinated influence campaigns that originated in Iran and targeted countries around the world. It even discovered a number of new pages connected to Russia. Iran linked pages and groups allegedly spread falsification in the United States, United Kingdom, Latin America and the Middle East. Two days later on August 23, tech giant Google revealed that it had removed 39 YouTube channels after suspected links with Iran and Russia. The company further informed that they even disabled 13 accounts at its Google+ social network and six accounts at Blogger. Facebook Deletes 652 Fake Accounts Targeting World Politics Linked to Russia, Iran.
Senior Vice President of Global Affairs, Kent Walker wrote in a blog post that all the now blocked 39 YouTube channels had 13,466 total U.S. views on relevant videos. He further said that this operation has been going on “since at least January 2017.” It was a cybersecurity company, FireEye that alerted the social media platforms in July this year after they suspected a problem. The security analyst at the company noticed a bunch of inauthentic accounts and pages on Facebook that was reportedly sharing content from a site called Liberty Front Press. It also discovered six websites with ties to Russia that tricked American sites. WhatsApp Says No to Indian Government for Traceability Software.
Walker’s blog even revealed that over the last year, Google blocked 42 YouTube channels with ties to Internet Research Agency, a pro-Russia disinformation campaign which featured 58 English language videos. He wrote that Google has “updated U.S. lawmakers and law enforcement about the results of our investigation, including its relation to political content in the United States.” The company had used forensic evidence such as common internet protocol addresses and website domain information, to conclude that the misinformation campaign was coordinated attack from Iran’s state broadcaster. Facebook Algorithm Goes Haywire, Blocking Random Posts And Marking Them As Spam.
The investigations are on, and Google shall continue to share the finding with law enforcement and other relevant government entities in the United States and elsewhere as well as with others in the industry. On the other hand, in a similar move, Twitter and Alphabet Inc also acted on FireEye’s claims and removed hundreds of accounts which they found to be tied with Iranian influencers.