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Facebook report finds most 'inauthentic' networks start in Russia, Iran

Facebook report finds most 'inauthentic' networks start in Russia, Iran
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Russia and Iran are the biggest sources of fake Facebook accounts and pages used to mislead users, the company said in a report released Wednesday.

A third of the 150 networks that the company shut down between 2017 and 2020 for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” came from Iran or Russia. Inauthentic networks involve accounts, pages and groups that use fake accounts to mislead users. 

The United States was the most popular target of networks removed during the period. Ukraine was the second most targeted country, with 11 networks targeting it as opposed to 28 aimed at the U.S.

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"Influence operations are not new, but over the past several years they have burst into global public consciousness," the report reads.

"These campaigns attempt to undermine trust in civic institutions and corrupt public debate by exploiting the same digital tools that have diversified the online public square and empowered critical discussions from Me Too to the Black Lives Matter movements."

Wednesday's report summarized and analyzed previously public disclosures from Facebook, which started sharing info about takedowns after the 2016 election.

Facebook says it has improved at detecting and handling coordinated disinformation during that time.

Large-scale campaigns "are now harder to pull off, more expensive, and less likely to succeed," the report concludes, before warning that those peddling disinformation are growing more sophisticated.

"As threat actors evade enforcement by co-opting witting and unwitting people to blur the lines between authentic domestic discourse and manipulation, it will get harder to discern what is and isn't part of a deceptive influence campaign," it reads.