Purpose of This Report
Over the past three years, we’ve shared our findings about coordinated inauthentic behavior we detect and remove from our platforms. As part of our regular CIB reports, we’re sharing information about all networks we take down over the course of a month to make it easier for people to see progress we’re making in one place.
What Is CIB?
We view CIB as coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal where fake accounts are central to the operation. There are two tiers of these activities that we work to stop: 1) coordinated inauthentic behavior in the context of domestic, non-government campaigns and 2) coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government actor.
Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB)
When we find domestic, non-government campaigns that include groups of accounts and Pages seeking to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing while relying on fake accounts, we remove both inauthentic and authentic accounts, Pages and Groups directly involved in this activity.
Foreign or Government Interference (FGI)
If we find any instances of CIB conducted on behalf of a government entity or by a foreign actor, we apply the broadest enforcement measures including the removal of every on-platform property connected to the operation itself and the people and organizations behind it.
We monitor for efforts to re-establish a presence on Facebook by networks we previously removed. Using both automated and manual detection, we continuously remove accounts and Pages connected to networks we took down in the past.
Summary of August 2020 Findings
In August, we removed three networks of accounts, Pages and Groups. Two of them — from Russia and the US — targeted people outside of their country, and another from Pakistan focused on both domestic audiences in Pakistan and also in India. We have shared information about our findings with law enforcement, policymakers and industry partners.
Since 2017, we have removed over 100 networks worldwide for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior, including ahead of major democratic elections. The first network we took down was linked to the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA), and so was the 100th we took down in August. In total, our team has found and removed about a dozen deceptive campaigns connected to individuals associated with the IRA. Over the last three years, we have detected these efforts earlier and earlier in their operation, often stopping them before they were able to build their audience. With each takedown, threat actors lose their infrastructure across many platforms, forcing them to adjust their techniques, and further reducing their ability to reconstitute and gain traction.
As part of our work to find, study and remove influence operations from Facebook, we’ve seen them target multiple technology platforms and seek to use traditional media to amplify their narratives. We’ve seen a number of campaigns, including the two we removed in August, create Pages purporting to be news entities to appear more credible. The IRA-linked campaign we removed in August was largely unsuccessful on Facebook, but it tricked unwitting freelance journalists into writing stories on its behalf. We’re notifying people who we believe have been contacted by this network.
We expect to see more attempts like this from threat actors globally and we’ll remain vigilant and work with other technology companies, law enforcement, and independent researchers to find and remove influence operations.
- Total number of Facebook accounts removed: 521
- Total number of Instagram accounts removed: 72
- Total number of Pages removed: 147
- Total number of Groups removed: 78
(Note: We’ll update these numbers in the coming days when more data for this reporting period becomes available.)
Networks Removed in August 2020:
- Russia: We removed a small network of 13 Facebook accounts and two Pages linked to individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA). This activity focused primarily on the US, UK, Algeria and Egypt, in addition to other English-speaking countries and countries in the Middle East and North Africa. We began this investigation based on information about this network’s off-platform activity from the FBI. Our internal investigation revealed the full scope of this network on Facebook.
- US: We removed 55 Facebook accounts, 42 Pages and 36 Instagram accounts linked to US-based strategic communications firm CLS Strategies. This network focused primarily on Venezuela and also on Mexico and Bolivia. We found this activity as part of our proactive investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region.
- Pakistan: We removed 453 Facebook accounts, 103 Pages, 78 Groups and 107 Instagram accounts operated from Pakistan and focused on Pakistan and India. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region.
We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing effort. We’re committed to continually improving to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies.
See the detailed report for more information.