Facebook and Iranian influence

Natalie Johnson of the Washington Free Beacon documents Facebook’s attempt to counter the Iranian government’s infiltration of social media.

Facebook said Friday it has taken steps to weaken an Iranian influence operation targeting internet users around the world after a Reuters investigation found the campaign is significantly more expansive than previously thought.

“While we’re making progress rooting out abuse, it’s an ongoing challenge because the people responsible are determined and well funded,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Washington Free Beacon.

“We constantly have to improve to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people, and working more closely with law enforcement, security experts, and other companies. Their collaboration is critical to our investigations since no one company can fight this on their own.”

Facebook announced last week it had identified several new influence campaigns across its platform as part of a broader Iranian effort to covertly sway public opinion in other countries. The Reuters analysis of Tehran’s influence operations uncovered an extensive network of anonymous websites and social media accounts spanning Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube in 11 different languages.

Iran has been particularly active in Iraq, where it’s working alongside Qatar to install a pro-Iranian prime minister following the country’s May parliamentary elections.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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