Facebook said Friday that it had removed 82 pages, groups, and accounts that were run from Iran but targeting people in the US and the UK.
The company said it had first discovered the pages a week ago and that it was making public its initial findings due to the upcoming US midterm elections.
“The Page administrators and account owners typically represented themselves as US citizens, or in a few cases UK citizens — and they posted about politically charged topics such as race relations, opposition to the President, and immigration,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in a blog post.
Gleicher said on a call with reporters Friday that the company had not yet been able to determine if the operation was tied to the Iranian government.
The accounts were followed by more than 1 million people, Facebook said.
Facebook released screenshots of some of the pages, which were named “Wake Up America,” “No racism no war,” and “Thirst for Truth.”
Among the images released by Facebook were memes posted by the pages, including one about President Trump that called him, “The worst, most hated president in American history!”
The pages hosted seven events, but Facebook would not share any additional information about those events, including whether any real American or British people had attended them.
Gleicher told reporters that the primary goal of the pages appeared to spreading messages, not organizing events.
This is Facebook’s second prominent takedown of Iranian content targeting Americans in recent months.
The company said it has shared its findings with US and UK law enforcement, the US Congress, and other technology companies.
Facebook is bracing for November’s midterm elections in the US, even building a “war room” at the company’s headquarters in California.
Despite the company’s efforts, abuse of its platform is still occurring, and there are questions about the effectiveness of those efforts.