Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?



Facebook Takes Down Misleading Campaigns From Iraq, Ukraine

Facebook this week announced that it removed multiple pages, groups, and accounts engaged in misleading behavior on the social platform.

Facebook this week announced that it removed multiple pages, groups, and accounts engaged in misleading behavior on the social platform.

Spreading coordinated inauthentic content on Facebook and Instagram, the campaigns originated from Iraq and Ukraine, but were not related to one another. Each of them, however, created networks of accounts to mislead users about who they were and what they were doing.

Facebook’s action was focused on stopping the manipulation operations by taking down the pages, groups and accounts involved in the behavior, and not the content they posted. The reason for that was that the actors were coordinated and employed fake accounts to misrepresent themselves.

“We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge. We’re committed to continually improving to stay ahead,” Facebook says.

Facebook’s takedown operation involved removing 76 accounts, 120 pages, one group, two events and seven Instagram accounts that it found “engaging in domestic-focused coordinated inauthentic behavior in Iraq.”

The threat actor used fake accounts to amplify content and manage pages, and also merged many pages and changed their names over time. They also impersonated other people in an attempt to avoid detection and removal.

Posts were typically about domestic political and societal issues, including religion, public figures, the state of the military under the Saddam Hussein rule, tensions with Iran, the actions of the US military in Iraq, as well as Iranian-backed militia operating in Iraq and Kurdish-Iraqi politics.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

According to Facebook, less than 1.6 million accounts followed one or more pages, around 339,000 accounts joined at least one group, and around 2,000 people followed one or more Instagram accounts.

The actor spent less than $1,600 on Facebook and Instagram ads, and hosted two events on these pages: one scheduled for February 2016 and the other for May 2016.

“Up to 15 people expressed interest in at least one of these events. We cannot confirm whether any of these events actually occurred,” Facebook notes.

The social platform also removed 168 accounts, 149 pages and 79 groups that engaged in inauthentic behavior in Ukraine. Fake accounts were used to manage groups and a number of pages, increase engagement, disseminate content, and direct users to third-party sites posing as news outlets.

Posts were typically about celebrities, show business, sports, local and international news, political and economic issues, including Ukrainian elections, political candidates, and criticism of public figures. Facebook managed to link the activity to Pragmatico, a Ukrainian PR firm.

According to Facebook, less than 4.2 million accounts followed one or more of these pages and about 401,000 accounts joined at least one of these groups. The threat actor spent around $1.6 million on Facebook and Instagram ads.

Related: Faked Facebook Accounts Linked to Saudi Arabia, Mideast Region

Related: Facebook Figures Five Percent of Accounts Are Fake

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

Click to comment

Daily Briefing Newsletter

Subscribe to the SecurityWeek Email Briefing to stay informed on the latest threats, trends, and technology, along with insightful columns from industry experts.

SecurityWeek’s Threat Detection and Incident Response Summit brings together security practitioners from around the world to share war stories on breaches, APT attacks and threat intelligence.


Securityweek’s CISO Forum will address issues and challenges that are top of mind for today’s security leaders and what the future looks like as chief defenders of the enterprise.


Expert Insights

Related Content

Application Security

Cycode, a startup that provides solutions for protecting software source code, emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday with $4.6 million in seed funding.

CISO Strategy

SecurityWeek spoke with more than 300 cybersecurity experts to see what is bubbling beneath the surface, and examine how those evolving threats will present...

Management & Strategy

SecurityWeek examines how a layoff-induced influx of experienced professionals into the job seeker market is affecting or might affect, the skills gap and recruitment...

CISO Conversations

In this issue of CISO Conversations we talk to two CISOs about solving the CISO/CIO conflict by combining the roles under one person.

CISO Strategy

Security professionals understand the need for resilience in their company’s security posture, but often fail to build their own psychological resilience to stress.

Management & Strategy

Industry professionals comment on the recent disruption of the Hive ransomware operation and its hacking by law enforcement.


The three primary drivers for cyber regulations are voter privacy, the economy, and national security – with the complication that the first is often...

Management & Strategy

Tens of cybersecurity companies have announced cutting staff over the past year, in some cases significant portions of their global workforce.