Facebook, Twitter remove pages promoting Iranian propaganda

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Paresh Dave, Nikhil Subba

SAN FRANCISCO – (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) said on Tuesday that they each removed about 300 accounts, mostly originating in Iran, that were found to be engaged in coordinated “inauthentic behavior.”

The social media companies acted on a tip from cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc (FEYE.O), which said on Tuesday that the accounts were promoting Iranian propaganda, including discussion of “anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli and pro-Palestinian themes.”

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“We’ve removed 652 Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said in a blog post.

Twitter called the effort “coordinated manipulation.”

The influence effort, as FireEye described it, began last year and continued through this month, the company said in a blog post.

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“However, it is important to note that the activity does not appear to have been specifically designed to influence the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, as it extends well beyond U.S. audiences and U.S. politics,” FireEye said.

The account removals comes weeks after Facebook took down accounts originating in Russia for engaging in deceiving behavior. The company said on Tuesday that it found additional inauthentic behavior tied to Russia, but that the activity does not appear linked to the campaign tied to Iran.

Reporting by Paresh Dave in San Francisco and Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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