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Facebook destroys operation of troll farm developed by Iranian breakout group

KAY NIETFELD / DPA / AFP via Getty Images Facebook claims to have destroyed a troll farm run by the Mujahideen-e-Khalq – an Iranian dissident group campaigning for the overthrow of the Iranian revolutionary government – which used fake faces generated by intelligence artificial to populate fake accounts Social media company linked the troll farm, based next to MEK’s headquarters in Albania, to 300 different assets on the Facebook platform, including pages, groups and engaged accounts in unauthentic coordinated behavior. revolutionary organization, opposed the Iranian monarchy in the 1970s and fought alongside the IRGC to overthrow the Shah of Iran. After the revolution, the IRGC cracked down on the PMOI and the group sought refuge in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The United States designated the group as a terrorist organization in 1997, but the Obama administration removed the designation in 2012. Since then, the group has spent millions of dollars cultivating allies in the United States and advocating for a regime change in Iran. He has also spent a lot on speaking expenses for top Democratic and Republican heavyweights he sees as allies, including Rudy Giuliani, former Vermont Governor and DNC Chairman Howard Dean, and former Councilor for the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Trump’s National Security, John Bolton. The group is known for its strict control of members. A 2005 study by Human Rights Watch, based on interviews with PMOI dissidents, included testimonies of “abuses ranging from the detention and persecution of ordinary members wishing to leave the organization, to long periods of time. solitary confinement, severe beatings and torture of dissident members. study, RAND researchers alleged that the group exhibited a number of “sectarian characteristics,” including “intense ideological exploitation and isolation,” “sexual control,” “emotional isolation” and other similar tactics. . The lobbying focus of the MEK, the troll farm he ran, was apparently more focused on the Iranian and diaspora public. Facebook claims the majority of the troll farm’s posts were in Farsi with a smaller number in Arabic and English. In terms of content, the troll farm was carrying traditional PMOI messages that criticized the clerical Iranian regime and praised the PMOI itself. The trolls also attempted to push its audience to websites that served as a front for the PMOI without revealing their association to them. The effort, however, was mostly a failure, as the operations “got little to no visibility from the audience,” garnering few followers on its various accounts, groups and pages, according to Facebook. MEK trolls used a few different tactics to populate their Facebook. properties with identities that would appear authentic. In some cases, trolls have used photos of famous poets as avatars. In a smaller number of cases, the trolls used fake AI-generated faces of people who didn’t exist. place where a collective of operators share computers and phones to jointly manage a pool of fake accounts as part of an influence operation, ”according to a report on the operation published by Facebook. long before Facebook’s recent withdrawal. In 2019, The Intercept reported that Heshmat Alavi, a pro-MEK Twitter account with more than 80,000 followers, was run by a team of four MEK social media trolls, according to a MEK defector when interviewed by the press. Twitter briefly suspended Alavi’s account after The Intercept reported, but then reinstated it. Facebook announced its identification and application against the PMOI troll farm as part of its monthly announcement. the cement of coordinated operations of inauthentic behavior on its platforms. The latest report included an announcement to dismantle 11 different countries, ranging from Mexico to Egypt, Spain and others.The company also announced the dismantling of a small Iran-led network targeting to sow discord in Israeli politics. Facebook claims to have identified 29 Facebook accounts, two pages and 10 Instagram accounts involved in an effort to impersonate left-wing Israelis critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The latest monthly pullout of coordinated inauthentic behavior mirrored the company’s investments in detection and law enforcement, making these operations more difficult for adversaries to pursue in the future.Learn more about The Daily Beast. Get our top stories delivered to your inbox every day. Register now! Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside delves deeper into the stories that matter to you. Learn more.



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