A network of fake accounts promoting US interests in Middle East and Central Asian countries has been linked to people associated with the US military, Meta said Tuesday.
Meta removed dozens of Facebook and Instagram accounts and additional pages and groups linked to the network for violating its policies against coordinated inauthentic behavior, the tech giant said in its quarterly hostile threats report. It is a rare example of the Silicon Valley-based company tying an influence campaign to the US rather than to a foreign country.
According to Meta, the people behind the operation “tried to hide their identities,” but the company’s investigation “found links to people associated with the US military.”
Pentagon spokesman César Santiago said in a statement that the department was “aware of the report released by Meta,” but declined to comment “at this stage” on the findings of the report.
“We will review and assess all information Meta provides,” Santiago added.
Meta said it shared information about the network with independent researchers from Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory. In August, the researchers published a report that accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media platforms used “misleading tactics to promote pro-Western narratives in the Middle East and Central Asia.”
report said they believe the activity represents “the most extensive case of covert pro-Western influence” on social media that needs to be analyzed by open-source researchers. The campaigns would promote narratives that promote the interests of the US and its allies and speak out against countries such as Russia, China, and Iran.
According to Meta, the network focused on Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.