Twitter and Facebook Demolish Global Series of Disinformation Network

On Thursday, Facebook Inc. and Twitter stated that they had dismantled over a dozen disinformation networks utilized by political and state-backed groups in several countries to deceive and misguide users on their platforms.

Identify and Suspend!

In secluded statements, the two companies stated that they had spotted and suspended over 3,500 accounts between them, which were using fabricated identities and other deceptive behaviors to broadcast false or misleading information.

The networks aimed at users in a broad selection of countries, consisting of the United States where officials have warned that foreign governments are trying to tamper with the outcome of November’s presidential election.

After experiencing heavy scrutiny for failing to curb asserted Russian efforts to sway the 2016 U.S. election, Facebook and Twitter have declared an array of high-profile takedowns in the weeks resulting in this year’s presidential vote.

In several cases, the social media companies have partnered with U.S. law enforcement to track and dismantle political influence campaigns targeting U.S. voters which have been linked to foreign states, most notably Iran and Russia.

Tehran and Moscow have repeatedly refuted the allegations.

The takedowns declared on Thursday included networks with a global reach far beyond the U.S. election. The operations targeted Internet users in at least 16 other countries ranging from Azerbaijan to Nigeria and Japan, according to Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter also stated that the five networks it had taken down were separately associated with groups with ties to the governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Thailand, and Russia.

Naming Some Groups

“Our goal with these disclosures is to continue to build public understanding around the ways in which state actors try to abuse and undermine open democratic conversation,” the company said in a statement.

Facebook also explained it had spotted 10 networks, some of which it had previously identified publicly. The networks were predominantly linked to political groups who aimed at domestic audiences, it said, consisting of the Myanmar military and the youth wing of Azerbaijan’s ruling party.

“Deceptive campaigns like these raise particularly complex issues by blurring the line of a healthy public debate and manipulation,” according to Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy.

The Washington Post has reported that Turning Point USA was the reason behind a “spam-like” political messaging campaign, which posted 4,500 tweets with identical content. At the time, Twitter suspended 20 accounts and Facebook stated it would investigate the activity.

Case of Rally Forge

Turning Point said the allegations related to a separate entity. “The mistake has been flagged with Facebook’s communication team,” it said in a statement.

Messages left with Rally Forge and its Phoenix area-based president, Jake Hoffman was not immediately returned.

Facebook also banned a U.S. marketing firm with the name Rally Forge, which it claimed had worked with conservative activism organization Turning Point USA and a self-proclaimed environmental body called Inclusive Conservation Group.

Accounts managed by Rally Forge tried to influence public conversations around news events by flooding the comments section of news articles from prominent outlets, according to Facebook.