Beware of Fake News From Iran

Sunday, February 03, 2019 |  David Lazarus

Facebook removed hundreds of Iranian accounts that were being used to spread disinformation about Israel in the US and other regions. According to Facebook's announcement, 783 accounts and groups on Facebook and Instagram that originated in Iran were fake accounts being used to promote Iranian propaganda.

Most of the postings on these accounts were targeting Israel, including articles denying the Jewish state's right to exist. According to Facebook, “This included commentary that repurposed Iranian state media’s reporting on topics like Israel-Palestine relations. This activity was directed from Iran, in some cases repurposing Iranian state media content, and engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting people across the world.” That’s a nice way of saying that the Iranian government coordinated a world-wide fake-news attack on Israel.

Facebook reported finding 262 Pages, 356 accounts and 3 Facebook groups, as well as 162 accounts on Instagram that were set up to promote Iranian propaganda by posting “news stories” about current events. The phony Facebook pages had already garnered a combined two million followers, 1,600 people had joined at least one of the aforementioned groups, and 254,000 were following the Instagram accounts.

The accounts had been opened in dozens of countries, including Israel. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as Facebook admits they are far from having completed their review of where the content is coming from for these fake sites. Some of these accounts date back to 2014, when a bogus Facebook page invited followers to an anti-Israel event. More recently, an event was scheduled from a fake Iranian account for May 2018. Hundreds of people express interest in attending these events.

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