Russia And Iran Behind Fake News, Facebook Report Finds

( There’s a lot of disinformation being spread on Facebook, and the two largest purveyors of that information are Iran and Russia.

According to a recent report the social media giant released, the two countries led the way in spreading disinformation over the last four years. And their top target in that time was the American public.

Between 2017 and 2020, Facebook said it shut down 150 networks of fake accounts. Many of those were efforts by foreign entities that were looking to influence American thinking. The others were created by domestic extremists within the United States.

As the report says:

“Influence operations are not new, but over the past several years they have burst into global public consciousness. These campaigns attempt to undermine trust in civic institutions and corrupt public debate by exploiting the same digital tools that have diversified the online public square and empowered critical discussions from Me Too to the Black Lives Matter movements.”

Facebook has often been criticized for not doing enough to stop misinformation from being spread on its platform. It’s also taken a lot of heat for being extremely unequal when censoring content or removing accounts.

Still, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, somehow believes the company has made a lot of strides in the last few years. He said the company has “a pretty good and improving record of catching, in particular, the operations that are getting more attention.”

In a statement, the company tried to defend its actions — or lack thereof, as some believe — leading up to the January 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol building. That statement read:

“We took a number of steps to limit content that sought to delegitimize the election, including indefinitely suspending President Trump from our platform, labeling candidates’ posts with the latest vote-counting information after President Trump prematurely declared victory, and removing violating content including the original #StopTheSteal Group.”

According to Facebook’s recent report, it shut down 27 networks in Russian and 23 in Iran that undertook what the company is calling “Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior.”

The Big Tech company said that not all of those campaigns were directly tied to the foreign governments. Private researchers, though, said the actions of these networks were in line with the hallmarks of what these foreign governments have done in the past in terms of attempting influence campaigns.

A recent example of the actions of one of these networks happened in 2020. In that case, an Iranian network tried to pose as members of the Proud Boys to threaten voters in Florida.

Not all of the campaigns targeted the American public, of course, since Facebook is a global company. Many of the campaigns were run by governments who were trying to target segments of their own populations.

Incidents like this happened in Myanmar and Ukraine, for example.

Still, the United States is a major target of both foreign and domestic disinformation campaigns that are being carried out — or at least attempted to — on Facebook.