Facebook uncovers new global misinformation operations

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under scrutiny after the company admitted that Russian agents ran political influence operations on the social network in 2016

The Facebook investigation was prompted by a tip from cybersecurity firm FireEye regarding a collection of "Liberty Front Press" pages on the social network and other online services.

The first "Liberty Front Press" accounts found were at Facebook were created in 2013 and posted primarily political content focused on the Middle East along with Britain, Latin America and the US.

The site has created its own archive of political advertisements that allows users to obtain "more information about some of the ads they see and the advertisers who are funding them", according to Facebook.

Though it could have moved earlier, Facebook said it would have made it harder to understand the operators' "playbook and the extent of their network", and limited the company's ability to assist law enforcement.

Microsoft on Monday said that hackers linked to the Russian government sought to steal email login credentials from USA politicians and think tanks.

One, dubbed "Liberty Front Press", was linked to Press TV, an Iranian state broadcaster. It said the Russian accounts had recently been focused on disseminating information about politics in Syria and Ukraine.

Also Tuesday, Twitter said it had taken down 284 accounts for "coordinated manipulation" appearing to originate in Iran.

The social network said it found no links between the activity that originated in Iran and that which it sourced to Russian Federation.

The social network has also removed an unspecified number of pages, groups, and accounts previously linked by the United States government to the Russian military, which was using the platform to spread propaganda favorable to Russia and Syrian president Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

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In its continuous effort to fight the spread of misinformation, Facebook has reportedly taken down hundreds of fake pages.

Facebook Inc. (FB.O) for the first time named a country other than Russian Federation that has been using fake accounts to manipulate global politics: Iran.

Postings cited by FireEye expressed praise for US politicians and other Twitter users who criticized the Trump administration's decision in May to abandon the Iranian nuclear pact, under which Iran had agreed to curb its nuclear weapons program in exchange for loosening of sanctions.

American president Donald Trump, who pulled his country out of the nuclear anti-proliferation deal with Iran, was attacked by the social media accounts.

Claiming a win over Russian plans to hack USA politicians, Microsoft unveils a new security service to detect attacks expected in the lead-up to the midterms. It said that activity did not appear to be linked to the Iranian campaign.

Facebook has significantly stepped up policing of its platform since a year ago, when it acknowledged that Russian agents successfully ran political influence operations on its platform that were aimed at swaying the 2016 presidential election.

Company officials said they had briefed the U.S. Treasury and State Departments in case the activity involved any potential violations of U.S. sanctions, which don't prohibit U.S. companies from providing internet services to Iran.

Last year, Facebook disclosed that 475 fake accounts traced back to Russian Federation bought more than $100,000 in ads around the time of the 2016 USA election.

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