Russian & Iran Accounts Taken Down In Fight Against Facebook Election Interference

On Monday, October 21, Facebook disclosed that it had taken down networks on both Facebook and Instagram belonging to Russian and Iranian agents attempting to interfere with the upcoming U.S. 2020 presidential elections. These numerous fake social media accounts took on a variety of political personas, claiming to be everything from pro-Donald Trump, pro-police, and pro-Confederate to feminist, anti-police violence, and pro-Bernie Sanders, just to name a few. All these accounts primarily shared memes or content created by authentic American social media users with sparse commentary added. 1

The coordinated operations originating from Iran included 11 Instagram accounts, 97 Facebook accounts, and 15 Facebook pages with at least over 7,800 followers combined. A network of 50 Instagram accounts and one Facebook account originating from Russia was also dismantled. 2

This operation showed links to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the infamous Russian troll agency that participated in social media and Facebook election meddling before and during the 2016 presidential elections. The IRA’s similar techniques of “meme warfare” influenced the elections and helped exacerbate the nation’s divide. 3

Plans to Prevent Facebook Election Meddling in 2020

To prevent online foreign Facebook election interference during the 2020 presidential elections, Facebook also announced several initiatives aimed to proactively prepare its social media platforms against bad-faith actors and misinformation. In a conference call with reporters Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg elaborated on the tech giant’s overall commitment:

“So the bottom line here is that elections have changed significantly since 2016 and Facebook has changed, too. We’ve gone from being on our back foot to now proactively going after some of the biggest threats that are out there. […] There’s still, of course, a long way to go before Election Day, and we know that we have a big responsibility to secure our platforms and stay ahead of some of these sophisticated new threats to the integrity of elections here and around the world.” 4


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  1. Graphika – The IRACopyPasta Campaign
  2. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook Newsroom – Removing More Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior From Iran and Russia
  3. Nicholas Thomson & Issie Lapowky, Wired – How Russian Trolls Used Meme Warfare to Divide America
  4. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook, Inc. – Final Transcript 10-21-2019