Facebook Removes Iran-linked Network Targeting Netanyahu

Facebook announced Tuesday it was updating its hate speech policies to include “stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world.”
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Facebook on Friday announced it had taken down a network of accounts linked to Iran for violating foreign intervention policy, including campaigns targeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and supporting Israeli protests against him.

“We removed 12 Facebook accounts, two Pages and 307 Instagram accounts linked to individuals associated with EITRC, a Tehran-based IT company. This activity originated in Iran and targeted primarily Israel, and also Iraq,” the social media giant said in its October 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report.

Most of the accounts went through significant name changes and claimed to be either from Israel or Iraq. They posted memes, images and other content in Hebrew and Arabic focusing on news and current events in the countries they targeted, including the anti-Netanyahu protests in Israel, criticism of his policies and response to the pandemic, Facebook said.

Facebook said the network was early in its audience building when it was removed, but had nevertheless garnered around 10,000 followers.

One of the accounts was called “Black flags II” after the Black Flags protest movement that has organized anti-Netanyahu protests around the country for several months.

Facebook also said it removed another network originating in Iran that focused primarily on the United States and Israel.

“They focused on Saudi Arabia’s activities in the Middle East and claims about an alleged massacre at Eurovision, an international song contest, hosted by Israel in 2019,” Facebook said.

Iran was also blamed last month for emails sent to American voters, claiming to be from far-right group the Proud Boys and intimidating them into voting for U.S. President Donald Trump on “or we will come after you.”

Netanyahu’s Likud Party responded to Facebook’s report, saying that Iran “secretly worked to fuel the left-wing ‘Black Flag’ demonstrations in Israel attempting to overthrow” the prime minister.

“Iran, which seeks Israel’s destruction, works to acquire nuclear weapons and arms enemies around us, is investing in efforts to overthrow Prime Minister Netanyahu because Tehran knows that Netanyahu has been one of the main global forces blocking these attempts for years,” the statement said.

“Even if the left-wing demonstrators replace their black flags with pink flags they will not be able to obscure the fact that they are being supported by one of the darkest regimes in the world and both have a common goal — to bring down the prime minister,” it added.


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