Facebook Takes Down Fake Pages in Indonesia and Iran

Facebook continues to battle fake accounts linked to groups trying to influence elections and policy worldwide. This time, pages in Indonesia and Iran were removed.

In Indonesia, the company removed 207 Facebook Pages, 800 Facebook accounts, 546 Facebook Groups, and 208 Instagram accounts, for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook in Indonesia, misleading others about who they were and what they were doing. All of these Pages, accounts and groups were linked to the Saracen Group – an online syndicate in Indonesia.

The Saracen Group’s coordinated abuse of the platform using inauthentic accounts is a violation of company policies and Facebook has banned the entire organization from the platform.

About 170,000 people followed at least one of these Facebook Pages, and more than 65,000 followed at least one of these Instagram accounts.

In Iran, Facebook removed 783 Pages, groups and accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior tied to Iran. There were multiple sets of activity, each localized for a specific country or region, including Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, US, and Yemen. The Page administrators and account owners typically represented themselves as locals, often using fake accounts, and posted news stories on current events. This included commentary that repurposed Iranian state media’s reporting on topics like Israel-Palestine relations and the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, including the role of the US, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Some of the activity dates back to 2010. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, the company’s manual review linked these accounts to Iran.

Facebook said about 2 million accounts followed at least one of these Pages, about 1,600 accounts joined at least one of these groups, and more than 254,000 accounts followed at least one of these Instagram accounts.

The Iranian group also spent under $30,000 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram paid for primarily in US dollars, UK pounds, Canadian dollars, and euros.