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Facebook removes hundreds of pages, groups, accounts, linked to Russia, Iran

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under scrutiny after the company admitted that the Russian agents ran the political impact of the activities on the social network in 2016.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

Facebook announced Tuesday night that it was removed 652 pages, groups and accounts linked to Iran for the “coordinated authentic behavior” — including the sharing of the political material, and had also removed other pages tied to the Russian military intelligence.

In a statement, the social network said that the activity originating in Iran and the activity coming from Russia were not related. He also said that it was not aware of any activity of the Russia-based accounts that focused on American users.

Facebook said it had not concluded his review of the material and refused to say how or why the state-sponsored actors were behaving as they did. But it said that it has informed the US and uk governments as well as the height of the U. S. Treasury and the state services due to ongoing sanctions against Iran.

“There is a lot we don’t know yet,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a hastily called conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon.

Facebook said that the actions to remove the pages, groups and accounts on Tuesday morning were the result of four studies — three to Iran and one with respect to Russia.

The first consisted of a group with the name of “Freedom Front Press the” set-up multiple accounts on Facebook and Instagram, which were followed by 155,000 other accounts. The group was linked to the Iranian state-owned media based on the web site registrations, IP addresses, and administrator accounts, Facebook said. The first accounts are created in 2013 and posted political content on the Middle East, britain and the USA, although the focus in the West has increased since last year, Facebook said.

The second group also had multiple accounts and 15,000 followers. The group was linked to “Freedom Front Press” or attempting to hack accounts to spread malware. Facebook said that it disrupted those efforts.

A third group also operated in Iran had as many as 813,000 followers, and also shared political content on the Middle East, britain and the USA.

In all Iranian-linked groups spent part of $12,000 in advertising, and hosted 28 different events.

A fourth group that tries to influence politics in Syria and the Ukraine was linked to sources that Facebook said that the US had linked to the Russian military intelligence.

Facebook has significantly strengthened police of the platform since last year, when she acknowledged that the Russian agents successfully ran the political influence of business activities on Facebook aimed at swaying the 2016 presidential elections.

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that Facebook’s action “is further evidence that foreign adversaries are actively using social media to share with the Americans and undermining our democratic institutions”

“I am happy with the Facebook taking steps to get rid of their platforms to these bad actors, there is clearly still work to be done.”

Senior executives at Facebook, Twitter and Google, are scheduled to appear before the committee Sept. 5 to discuss their business, to head off foreign attempts to interfere in the November mid-term elections.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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