Facebook removed fake accounts originating from United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, and Saudi Arabia because of “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
The social network announced in a blog post from Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, the removal of pages, groups, and accounts that originated in these countries. The two separate operations included one between the UAE and Egypt and one from Saudi Arabia.
“We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these pages, groups, and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action,” the post said.
Between the two operations, 476 accounts, 246 pages, 10 groups, four events, and 48 Instagram accounts were removed. The people behind these accounts and pages reportedly promoted content about the UAE impersonating public figures and organizations. Topics posted also included support for terrorist groups, as well as Iran’s activity in Yemen and the conflict in Libya. Facebook shared all of this information with law enforcement and policymakers.
“We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge. We’re committed to continually improving to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working more closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies,” Facebook added.
The pages originating in UAE and Egypt gained more than 13.7 million followers on Facebook and 65,000 followers on Instagram. The operation also spent about $167,000 in advertising on Facebook.
The separate operation that originated in Saudi Arabia gained 1.4 million Facebook followers, 145,000 Instagram followers, and spent $108,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads.
Users targeted by these operations lived primarily in the Middle East and North Africa.
Just last week, Facebook also announced the removal of pages, groups, and accounts from four separate operations originating in Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, and Honduras. These operations were also accused of “coordinated inauthentic behavior.”
Facebook explains “coordinated inauthentic behavior” as “when groups of pages or people work together to mislead others about who they are or what they are doing.”