Facebook has published its new Influence Operations Report, which provides an insight into coordinated fake activities on the platform. Industry, government and civil society have worked for the past four years to develop a joint response to increasingly sophisticated influence operations that Facebook defines as “a coordinated effort to manipulate or corrupt public debate for a strategic goal.” Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Networks, or CIB networks, are a subset of influence operations that rely on a coordinated network of accounts, sites, and groups designed to mislead social media users. Between 2017 and 2020, Facebook identified and removed 150 CIB networks.
27 of these networks were linked to Russia and 23 had links to Iran. Another nine CIB networks had connections to Myanmar and the USA. Regarding Russia, Facebook lists the country’s infamous Internet Research Agency and its alleged director Evgeny Prigozhin as behind 15 CIB networks. Behind another four or two Russian secret services and media websites stood.
The United States was the main target of foreign influence, and Facebook removed 26 responsible CIB networks between 2017 and 2020. Myanmar and the United Kingdom came in second with 11 each. Domestic influence operations are also a big problem for social networks, and Facebook says it removed nine networks targeting Myanmar during the above period, shortly before the US, which had eight domestic moves.
Facebook’s security teams have developed guidelines, automated detection tools and enforcement frameworks to combat influence over operators and fraudulent actors. In many cases, this has forced bad actors to move from a “wholesale” approach to a “retail” approach that targets a smaller and more specific audience with fewer resources. This strategy requires more investment and the creation of multiple accounts on different platforms to protect fake personas. Facebook states that this approach generally requires bad actors to “take a happy break” and that this has limited their success.
* Click below to enlarge (recorded by Statista)
Coordinated networks for spurious behavior removed from Facebook by country of origin.