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The Daily Beast

Facebook breaks elaborate troll farm operations in Iran’s dissident group

KAYNIETFELD / DPA / AFP via GettyImages Facebook states that it has destroyed a trawl farm run by Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a group of dissident Iranian lobbyers lobbying to overthrow the Iranian Revolutionary Government. .. The social media company has linked the troll farm alongside MEK’s headquarters in Albania to 300 different assets on Facebook’s platform, including pages, groups and accounts engaged in collaborative fraud. The Marxist Revolutionary Organization opposed the Iranian monarchy in the 1970s and fought with the IRGC to defeat the Iranian Shah. After the revolution, the IRGC cracked down on MEK and the group evacuated to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. The United States designated the group as a terrorist organization in 1997, but the Obama administration removed it in 2012. Since then, the group has spent millions of dollars fostering allies in the United States and advocating a regime change in Iran. It also costs a lot of money for lectures by prominent Democrats and Republicans, such as Rudolph Giuliani, former Vermont Governor and DNC Chairman Howard Dean, and former Trump National Security Advisor John Bolton. I’m spending. Site This group is known for its tight control over its members. A 2005 study by Human Rights Watch, based on an interview with MEK dissidents, found that “from the detention and persecution of general members wishing to leave the organization, long-term lonely confinement, violent beatings, and dissidents. It included testimony about “abuse leading to member torture.” Studies show that RAND researchers claimed that the group exhibited many “cult features,” including tactics such as “intense ideological exploitation and isolation,” “sexual control,” and “emotional isolation.” .. The focus of MEK’s lobbying, the troll farm it operated, was clearly more focused on the Iranian and dissident audience. According to Facebook, the majority of posts by Troll Farm are in Persian, with a small number of Arabic and English. In terms of content, the Troll Farm criticized Iran’s priesthood and pushed a traditional MEK message praising MEK itself. Trolls also tried to push viewers into a website that acted as the front of MEK without revealing its connection to MEK. However, according to Facebook, the effort was largely unsuccessful, as the operation “achieved little or no audience visibility” and gained few followers on various accounts, groups, and pages. MEK Troll used several different tactics to enter data into Facebook. A property with an identity that looks real. In some cases, trolls used pictures of famous poets as avatars. In a few cases, trolls used AI-generated fake faces of non-existent people. The operation posted content on a schedule tailored to the Albanian time zone, saying, “According to a report on operations published by physical Facebook, which is characteristic of so-called troll farms, a group of operators share a phone with a computer. A place to jointly manage a pool of fake accounts as part of an influential operation. ” Long before Facebook’s recent deletion, reports of troll operations performed by MEK on other social media platforms surfaced. In 2019, The Intercept reported that Heshmat Alavi, a professional MEK Twitter account with over 80,000 followers, is run by a team of four MEK social media trolls. outlet. Twitter temporarily suspended its Alavi account after reporting The Intercept, but then reopened it. As part of its monthly announcement, Facebook announced the identification and enforcement of MEK’s Troll Farm. Unauthorized operation cement tuned on that platform. The latest report included announcements of removals from 11 countries, including Mexico, Egypt and Spain. It also announced the removal of a small network operated by Iran aimed at distracting Israeli politics. Facebook says it has identified 29 Facebook accounts, 2 pages, and 10 Instagram accounts involved in efforts to impersonate left-wing Israelis who are critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. The latest monthly removal of coordinated fraud reflects the company’s investment in detection and enforcement, making it more difficult for attackers to pursue such operations in the future. Find out more at The Daily Beast. Put your top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now! DailyBeast Membership: Beast Inside digs deeper into the stories that matter to you. learn more.