We’re constantly working to find and stop coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate across our apps.
The Purpose of This Report
Over the past three and a half years, we’ve shared our findings about coordinated inauthentic behavior we detect and remove from our platforms. As part of our regular CIB reports, we’re sharing information about all the networks we take down over the course of a month to make it easier for people to see the progress we’re making in one place.
Summary of April 2021 Findings
Our teams continue to focus on finding and removing deceptive campaigns around the world — whether they are foreign or domestic. In April, we removed nine networks from six countries. The vast majority of them targeted people in their own countries. We have shared information about our findings with industry partners, researchers, law enforcement and policymakers.
We know that influence operations will keep evolving in response to our enforcement, and new deceptive behaviors will emerge. We will continue to refine our enforcement and share our findings publicly. We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before — it’s an ongoing effort and we’re committed to continually improving to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working closely with law enforcement, security experts and other companies.
Here are the numbers related to the new 9 CIB networks we removed in April:
- Total number of Facebook accounts removed: 1,565
- Total number of Instagram accounts removed: 141
- Total number of Pages removed: 724
- Total number of Groups removed: 63
Networks removed in April 2021:
- Palestine: We removed 447 Facebook accounts, 256 Pages, 17 Groups, and 54 Instagram accounts from Palestine that targeted primarily Palestine, and to a lesser extent Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, and Qatar. In addition, WhatsApp removed multiple accounts that were part of this activity. We found this activity as part of our internal investigation ahead of the election in Palestine and linked it to Fatah, a political party in Palestine.
- Azerbaijan: We removed 124 Facebook accounts, 15 Pages, six Groups and 30 Instagram accounts from Azerbaijan that targeted primarily Azerbaijan and to a much lesser extent Armenia. We found this network as a result of our internal investigation following routine enforcement against two third-party Android applications — Postegro and Nunu, which misled people into giving away their Instagram credentials. It appears that this activity was separate and unrelated to the same actors’ coordinated inauthentic behavior. Our CIB investigation found links to individuals associated with the Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan.
- Central African Republic (CAR): We removed 46 Facebook accounts, 32 Pages, and six Instagram accounts from CAR that targeted domestic audiences in that country. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region and we linked it to ANA, an NGO in the Central African Republic. This organization and its entities are now banned from Facebook.
- Mexico: We removed 162 Facebook accounts, 11 Pages, and seven Instagram accounts from Mexico that targeted the state of San Luis Potosi in that country. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region ahead of the Mexican elections, and we linked it to individuals in San Luis Potosi associated with the political campaigns of Xavier Nava (mayoral candidate) and Octavio Pedroza (gubernatorial candidate).
- Mexico: We removed 44 Facebook accounts, 11 Pages, and one Instagram account from Mexico that targeted the state of Yucatán in Mexico. We found this activity as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region ahead of the Mexican elections, and we linked it to Julián Zacarías (mayor of Progreso) and Sombrero Blanco, a PR firm in Mexico.
- Peru: We removed 80 Facebook accounts and six accounts on Instagram from Peru that targeted domestic audiences in that country. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region ahead of the Peru elections, and we linked it to individuals associated with the Fuerza Popular party and individuals employed by Alfagraf, an advertising firm in Peru.
- Peru: We removed 80 Facebook accounts, 12 Pages, five Groups and three Instagram accounts from Peru that targeted the Ancash region in that country. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region ahead of the Peru elections, and we linked it to a marketing entity in Ancash, Peru, most recently known as Marketing Politico Elohim.
- Ukraine: We removed 105 Facebook accounts, 24 Pages, and five Instagram accounts that originated in and targeted Ukraine. We began looking into this activity after reviewing public reporting by Bukvy, a news media organization in Ukraine. Our investigation found links to individuals associated with Sluha Narodu, a political party in Ukraine.
- Ukraine: 477 Facebook accounts, 363 Pages, 35 Groups and 29 Instagram accounts that originated in and targeted Ukraine. Based on a tip from the FBI, we began looking into and uncovered this Ukraine-focused activity, which we attributed to entities and individuals sanctioned by the US Treasury Department — Andriy Derkach, Petro Zhuravel, and Begemot-linked media entities, and also political consultants associated with Volodymyr Groysman and Oleg Kulinich. (See a detailed analysis of this network’s activity at the end of this report).
Read on to Learn More About What is Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior or CIB
We view CIB as coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal where fake accounts are central to the operation. There are two tiers of these activities that we work to stop: 1) coordinated inauthentic behavior in the context of domestic, non-government campaigns and 2) coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government actor.
Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB)
When we find domestic, non-government campaigns that include groups of accounts and Pages seeking to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing while relying on fake accounts, we remove both inauthentic and authentic accounts, Pages and Groups directly involved in this activity.
Foreign or Government Interference (FGI)
If we find any instances of CIB conducted on behalf of a government entity or by a foreign actor, we apply the broadest enforcement measures including the removal of every on-platform property connected to the operation itself and the people and organizations behind it.
We monitor for efforts to re-establish a presence on Facebook by networks we previously removed. Using both automated and manual detection, we continuously remove accounts and Pages connected to networks we took down in the past.
See the full report for more information.