Once again, Facebook is notifying the media that it has mass-removed accounts exhibiting "coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram." This time around, Mark Zuckerberg said the cull caught up 652 pages that it says were linked to a campaign originating in Iran, as well as an unspecified number of accounts linked to Russian military intelligence services. Like Microsoft's announcement last night and Facebook's last notice in July, these changes are part of a push for security around elections happening in 2018, including the just-concluded events in Mexico, and the US midterms in November.
While Facebook attributed the moves announced today to four separate investigations, it acknowledged that security company FireEye tipped it off to a network of sites starting with "Liberty Front Press." Facebook connected the page's backers to Iranian state media, saying that some of the accounts were created as early as 2013, while targeting viewers in the Middle East, UK, US and Latin America. One of the pages had 155,000 followers, and one of its Instagram accounts notched 48,000 followers. While some of the pages found pretended to be news and other organizations, a second group of "inauthentic" news pages showed evidence of attempts to hack accounts and spread malware.