Facebook takes down fake accounts in Uganda and Palestine

Both networks were targeting local elections, Facebook said.

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Facebook has removed another batch of fake accounts it says were trying to manipulate its platform and influence elections. The company published its latest report on “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” which identified two networks in Uganda and Palestine.

The Uganda network used fake accounts to “manage Pages, impersonate at least one public figure in Uganda, comment on other people’s content, and post in multiple Groups at once to make their content appear more popular than it was.” According to Facebook, the network consisted of 220 Facebook accounts, 32 pages, 59 groups and 139 Instagram accounts, which had amassed 512,000 followers and spent $5,000 in Facebook ads.

In its report, Facebook said it linked the activity to a government agency, the Government Citizens Interaction Center at the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.

The second network originated in Palestine and also targeted Facebook users in the country, though the company says it also found links to individuals in Belgium and the United Arab Emirates. The network used a combination of fake accounts and hacked accounts to “manage Pages posing as news outlets'' and impersonate “legitimate think tanks and media organizations in the UK.” Some accounts also posed as people living in the West Bank.

The network, which Facebook didn’t attribute to a specific group, consisted of 206 Facebook accounts, 178 pages, three groups and 14 Instagram accounts. It had 60,500 followers and had spent $1,100 in Facebook and Instagram ads.

During a call with reporters, Facebook’s head of security policy Nathaniel Gleicher noted that both networks targeted elections and that both groups used fake comments to influence conversations about political issues. “Both of them in some fashion focused on presidential elections within their countries,” Gleicher said. “Anytime there's a significant civic moment, whether that is an election, a global pandemic, protests in a country, we see influence operations looking to target those moments.”