Facebook Removed Israeli-Based Pages and Accounts Mostly Focused on Africa

Some activity was tied to Archimedes Group, which was banned from the platform

Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia were targeted Facebook
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Facebook removed a total of 265 accounts, pages, groups and events for coordinated inauthentic behavior, saying that they originated in Israel but focused on Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Niger and Tunisia, with some activity geared toward Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a Newsroom post that the people behind the network used fake accounts to run pages, spread content and artificially increase engagement.

They also misrepresented themselves as local citizens and local news organizations, publishing allegedly leaked information about politicians, along with political news on topics including elections, candidate views and criticism of political opponents.

Gleicher said Facebook’s investigation found that some of the activity was tied to Israeli commercial entity Archimedes Group, which has been banned from its platform and issued a cease-and-desist letter for repeated violations of the social network’s policies on misrepresentation and other offenses.

This week’s removals covered 65 Facebook accounts, 161 pages, 23 groups, 12 events and four Instagram accounts.

Gleicher said roughly 2.8 million Facebook accounts followed one or more of the pages, while some 5,500 joined at least one of the groups and about 920 followed one or more of the Instagram accounts.

In addition, the impacted pages hosted nine events between October 2017 and this month, with up to 2,900 people expressing interest in at least one of those events, and a portion of those who expressed interested identified as fake accounts. Gleicher said Facebook could not confirm whether any of the events actually took place.

Overall, approximately $812,000 was spent on advertising between December 2012 and this past April, paid for in Brazilian reals, Israeli shekel and U.S. dollars.

Gleicher also shared examples of content from the removed pages:

Caption: Faithful to only himself, Martin Fayulu criticizes and rejects the results of the presidential election, which has unfolded transparently and in an exemplary calmness. It is time for him to admit his defeat to president Tshisekedi who has been elected in a democratic way.
Caption: Mali: Justice Survey on a Mysterious Gold Mine from Airbus to Mali Airbus group is quoted in a judicial investigation for scam on a Malian gold mine in balance sheet deposit, whose shareholders have been ruined. The investment project of the aerospace giant in this mine, LED by a close to Malian power, seemed intended to clear occult funds to facilitate the obtaining of military markets in the country. This is a very embarrassing new business….

david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.