While Facebook claims impartiality in its crackdown on “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the loyalties of the man charged with carrying out that mission. if his resume is any indication, are not with the users.
MENLO PARK, CALIFORNIA — After Facebook purged thousands of independent media pages from its platform in October, one may be forgiven for thinking that Facebook couldn’t go any lower. But in the company’s second purge of 2019, the social media giant may have done just that.
The round of bans — doled out on Thursday to more than a thousand pages — was revealed in two blog posts: one focusing on pages that allegedly originated in Iran and another that took aim at activity in Indonesia. Not to be outdone, on Thursday Twitter also banned more than 2,500 accounts that it “believes may have origins in Iran.”
Additionally, 418 accounts that Facebook says “it cannot render definitive attribution to the [Internet Research Agency] for … although most appear to originate in Russia,” were also banned. Then 764 accounts “located in Venezuela,” a country in which the United States has been backing a coup attempt in since last week, were banned; and another 1,196 accounts “which appear to be engaged in a state-backed influence campaign” in Venezuela were also shuttered.
The Facebook bans are much like the other rounds issued by the company since it came under scrutiny on Capitol Hill following the 2016 elections for supposedly allowing a private Russian company, the Internet Research Agency, to run a campaign of desultory disinformation on its platform.
In the past — specifically, in the first round of bans on the platform that targeted Iran — Facebook relied on a cybersecurity firm called FireEye, which tipped them off to the accounts. FireEye has been funded by the CIA’s strategic investment arm In-Q-Tel, which describes FireEye as a “critical addition to our strategic investment portfolio for security technologies.”
Facebook has also partnered with the Digital Forensics Research Laboratory (DFLR) — the cyber arm of the neoconservative Atlantic Council, a D.C.-based think tank funded by defense giants, Gulf monarchies like Saudi Arabia, and NATO — in order to weed out “misinformation” from its platforms, including Facebook subsidiary Instagram.
But with the Thursday bans, Facebook’s troll hunter in chief, Nathaniel Gleicher, who commands a 30,000-strong cyber warrior unit, cited no supposed authorities such as FireEye or the Atlantic Council’s DFRL.'
Read more: Facebook’s Troll Hunter in Chief Nathaniel Gleicher Tied to Neocon Think Tank