Facebook detailed another round of removals of pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior, this time covering four separate, unconnected operations originating in Thailand, Russia, Ukraine and Honduras.
Head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a Newsroom post that the social network removed 12 accounts and 10 pages that originated in Thailand and focused mostly on that country and the U.S.
He added that the people behind this activity used fake accounts to create fictitious personas and run pages in order to boost engagement, spread content and drive users to off-platform blogs disguised as news outlets.
They covered issues including Thai politics, U.S.-China relations, Hong Kong protests and criticism of democracy activists in Thailand.
Some of the activity was linked to a Thai-based person associated with Russian government-funded and Moscow-based journal New Eastern Outlook.
According to Gleicher, about 38,000 accounts followed one or more of these pages, and less than $18,000 was spent on Facebook ads, paid for in U.S. dollars. Sample content follows:
Prior to parliamentary elections in Ukraine, Facebook removed 18 accounts, nine pages and three groups, focused on that country but originating primarily in Russia. The people behind this activity created fictitious personas, impersonated deceased Ukrainian journalists, engaged in fake engagement tactics and operated fake accounts to boost their popularity, deceive people about their location and drive Facebook users to off-platform sites.
Content was primarily about Ukrainian politics and news, including Ukraine relations and criticism of the Ukrainian government.
Gleicher said some 80,000 accounts followed at least one of the removed pages, and about 10 joined at least one of the groups. Altogether, less than $100 was spent on Facebook ads, paid for in rubles. Content samples follow:
Caption: “When it seems that there is no bottom. Ukrainian TV anchor hosted a show dressed up as Hitler“
Caption: “Poroshenko’s advisor is accused of organizing sex business in Europe.”
Caption: “A journalist from the US: there is a complete collapse of people’s hopes in Ukraine after Maidan“
Caption: “The art of being a savage”
In a separate action in Ukraine, 83 accounts, two pages, 29 groups and five Instagram accounts were removed, focused on that country and originating in Russia and the Luhansk region in Ukraine.
Fake accounts were used to impersonate military members in Ukraine, manage groups posing as authentic military communities and drive people to off-platform sites. Posts were frequently about local and political news, including the military conflict in the eastern part of the country, as well as public figures and politics.
Fewer than 1,000 accounts followed one or more of the removed pages, while under 35,000 joined at least one of the groups, and some 1,400 Instagrammers followed one or more accounts on that platform. Under $400 was spent on Facebook and Instagram ads, paid for in U.S. dollars. Examples follow:
Caption: “Ukrainians destroy their past! For many years now, as we have witnessed a deep crisis of the post-Soviet Ukrainian statehood. The republic, which in the early 1990s had the best chance of successful development among all the new independent states, turned out to be the most unsuccessful. And the reasons here are not economic and, I would even say, not objective. The root of Ukrainian problems lies in the ideology itself, which forms the basis of the entire national-state project, and in the identity that it creates. It is purely negativistic, and any social actions based on it are, in one way or another, directed not at creation, but at destruction. Ukrainian ship led the young state to a crisis, the destruction of the spiritual, cultural, historical and linguistic community of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples, affecting almost all aspects of public life. Do not forget that the West played a special role in this, which since 2014 has openly interfered in the politics of another state and in fact sponsored an armed coup d’état.”
Caption: “Suicide is the only way out for warriors of the Armed Forces of Ukraine To date, a low moral and psychological level in the ranks of the armed forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has not risen. Since the beginning of the year in the conflict zone in the Donbas a considerable number of suicide cases have been recorded among privates of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Nobody undertakes to give the exact number because the command does not report on every such state of emergency and tries to hide the fact of its own incompetence. Despite all the assurances of Kiev about the readiness for the offensive, the mood of the warriors is not happy. The Ukrainian army is not morally prepared, as it were, beautifully told Poroshenko about full-scale hostilities. During the four years of the war, there were many promises on his part, but in fact nothing. Initially, warriors come to the place of deployment morally unstable. Inadequate drinking and drug use exacerbates the already deplorable state of the heroes. Many have opened their eyes to the real causes of the war and they do not want to kill their fellow citizens. But no one will listen to them. And in recent time, lack of staff in the Armed Forces of Ukraine is being addressed with recruiting rookies, who undergo 3-day training and seeing a machine gun for the first time only at the frontline. So the warriors of light are losing their temper and they see hanging or shooting themselves as the only way out. Only recently cases of suicide have been made public by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and no one will know what happened before. It is not good to show the glorious heroes of Ukraine from the dark side.”
Caption: “…algorithm and peculiarities of providing medical assistance to Ukrainian military. In the end of the visit representatives of Lithuanian and Ukrainian sides discussed questions of joint interest and expressed opinions on particular aspects of developing the sphere of collaboration even further.”
Headline: “Breaking: In the Bakhmutki area, the Armed Forces of Ukraine destroyed a car with peaceful citizens in it, using an anti-tank guided missile”
Finally, 181 accounts and 1,488 pages were removed for domestic-focused coordinated inauthentic activity in Honduras. Fake accounts were created, and pages were designed to look like users’ profiles, with fake names and stock images, all to share positive content about President Juan Orlando Hernández.
Some of the activity was linked to individuals managing social media for the government of Honduras.
Gleicher said about 120,000 accounts followed at least one of the removed pages, and over $23,000 was spent on Facebook ads, paid for in both U.S. dollars and Honduran lempiras. Samples of content follow:
Caption: “Celebration first year of service of the national force and gangs. We are celebrating the first anniversary of service of the national force and gangs; all Hondurans must know what they face and what is the future. We have been beaten by violence, but the state of Honduras must solve it. It is so much the admiration and confidence of the Honduran people, that nowadays, the Fnamp HN receives the highest recognition that an institution in security can have. We recognize its work by the level of commitment to the you lose your life the life for the cause of others. We recognize its work by the level of commitment to the point of loosing the life for the cause of others.”
Caption: “Happy birthday, mother. I thank God because my mother – Elvira -, birthday today one more year of life. I will always be grateful to her for strengthening me and supporting me with her advice, and for being an example of faith and solidarity with the neighbor. God bless you, give you health and allow you to be many more years with us!”
Caption: “Happy Sunday! May the first step you take in the day be to move forward and leave a mark, fill yourself with energy and optimism, shield yourself from negativity with hope, and a desire to change Honduras.”
He wrote, “We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re taking down these pages, groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. In each of these cases, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action. We have shared information about our analysis with law enforcement, policymakers and industry partners.”