Facebook: No Foreign Interference Related to Nationwide Protests

The social network released its Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report for May 2020

Content from one of the pages removed in Iraq Facebook
Headshot of David Cohen

Facebook head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said Friday that the social network has not discovered foreign interference on its platform related to the demonstrations that have been occurring across the country in reaction to the death of George Floyd.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that foreign groups were using misinformation campaigns to widen divisions in the country’s society, mirroring efforts by Russian entities that influenced the 2016 presidential election, Elizabeth Culliford of Reuters reported.

Gleicher said during a press call Friday, “We have been actively looking, and we haven’t yet seen foreign interference or domestic coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting these protests. We want to caution people against jumping to conclusions without clear evidence of foreign interference.”

Facebook also released its Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report for May 2020 Friday, providing details on two networks that were removed from its platform.

One network originated in Tunisia and focused on Francophone countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, using fake accounts to impersonate locals, post and like their own content, drive people to off-Facebook sites and manage groups and pages posting as independent news entities.

Some pages in the group engaged in deceptive audience-building tactics such as changing their focus to political themes and changing their names and administrators several times.

Facebook said it removed 446 pages, 182 accounts, 96 groups, 60 events and 209 Instagram accounts.

The social network also removed 324 pages, 71 accounts, five groups and 31 Instagram accounts that originated in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and focused on domestic audiences.

Facebook said fake accounts were used to post in groups, impersonate local politicians and political parties and manage pages purporting to be news entities, adding that some of those fake accounts had already been detected and disabled by its automated systems.

The social network said this activity was tied to individuals associated with Zanyari Agency, part of the intelligence services of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan.

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.