The latest Adversarial Threat Report published this week by Facebook’s parent company Meta shows that the investigation has uncovered several US-originating clusters of fake accounts and pages engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB).
The company said in a blog post on Tuesday that despite the efforts of the people behind this influence campaign to conceal their identities and coordination, their investigation found links to individuals associated with the US military.
Per the information Meta shared, it has removed 39 Facebook and 26 Instagram accounts, as well as 16 pages and two groups originating in the United States for violating the company’s policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior.
Although this activity was found as part of Meta’s internal investigation into suspected CIB in the region, it was the researchers at Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory that initially highlighted the influence network that was taken down.
Back in August, they published a report about online networks allegedly pushing pro-Western and anti-Russia politicized narratives, among other things.
Meta admitted that its large-scale operation focused on finding and removing deceptive campaigns around the world – both foreign and domestic – ran across many other internet platforms, including Twitter, YouTube, and Telegram as well as major Russian social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, and beyond those several dozen accounts they mention.
The company’s acknowledgment substantiates Washington Post’s bombshell investigation in September that revealed that after a myriad of social media accounts its operatives used to target foreign audiences in elaborate psychological warfare efforts, were exposed, the Pentagon was forced to launch a sweeping audit of how its clandestine information warfare has been conducted.
While their original investigation failed to pin blame on any particular actors, two Pentagon officials said later that among those whose activities are facing scrutiny for its influence operations is US CENTCOM.
Such behavior would definitely be a violation of the doctrine and training practices of the combatant command which oversees forces in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, but CENTCOM refused to comment is any of its personnel or contractors created the suspicious accounts.
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