Facebook Removes Hundreds of Iranian Pages

Yesterday Facebook reported the removal of 783 Pages, groups and accounts that were tied to Iran and engaging in coordinated inauthentic behaviour. The social media giant said that there were ‘multiple sets of activity, each localized for a specific country or region,’ from Afghanistan through to the United States.

The pages were said to be part of an Iranian campaign to promote its interests in various countries by creating fake identities of residents and posting fake news stories, according to Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook.

Example of a post by a fake Iranian accountAn example post by a fake Iranian account

Earlier this week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Iranian cyber-attacks were being carried out against Israel “on a daily basis.”

Now American media company Vocativ have released a report revealing that the Iranians have been using hundreds of fake accounts on Israeli social media pages in order to promote social division and to influence the outcome of the forthcoming general election in Israel.

Vocativ claimed that there were at least 350 fake Iranian accounts operating on Facebook, Twitter and Telegram, with the potential to reach as many as 500,000 Israelis every month.

Most of the posts and tweets issued were traced to an English-language website run by Iranians called Countdown 2040. It is a site which claims that Israel will cease to exist by 2040.

This is not a new phenomenon. One Israeli firm announced in September that it had uncovered three Iranian-run fake Hebrew and Arabic news sites seeking to influence Israelis; one of which was the Hebrew-language Tel Aviv Times.

However, the level of this fake activity targeted at Israel has increased enormously since the announcement of the general election. It seems that this is now a common hazard on social media.