Meta Removes Turkey-Based Fake Online Accounts Linked to Muslim Brotherhood Targeting Libya – Al Marsad

Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms, said on Thursday that Facebook and Instagram had removed a network of fake accounts based in Turkey which target Libya. It said in its report that it found links between the activity of these accounts with Libyan Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party.

The detailed report by Meta Platforms on Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour (CIB) said in 2021 they had “removed 52 networks that originated in over 30 countries, where the majority of influence operations targeted domestic audiences in their own countries.”

The report focussed particularly on Iran, Mexico and Turkey, where CIBs were particularly prevalent.

FAKE ACCOUNTS IN TURKEY TARGETING LIBYA LINKED TO MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

In Turkey, Meta Platforms said it “removed 41 Facebook accounts, 133 Pages, three Groups and 14 Instagram accounts.” It said they originated primarily in Turkey and “targeted people in Libya.” It added that is found this network as part of its internal investigation into the suspected CIBs in Libya “connected to prior reports of impersonation”, and that they “linked this activity to the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliated Libyan Justice and Construction Party.”

TARGETTED HARASSMENT

The report said that “people behind this activity used fake accounts — some of which were detected and disabled by our automated systems — to post and manage Groups and Pages, including those that purported to belong to public figures and organizations in Libya, including an airport, government entities, a former prime minister, politicians, journalists and activists. Some of this network’s Pages were disabled for impersonation and other violations.”

It added that the “individuals behind this activity posted in Arabic about news and current events in the region, including the delayed elections and criticism of the rise of women in politics, society and the media.”

It explained that this “network created Pages, purporting to be run by female public figures to make inflammatory statements on their behalf. They then would use their other Pages to point to these fictitious comments to criticize them, likely to encourage harassment.

The report said although the people behind it attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, “we found links to the Muslim Brotherhood’s affiliated Libyan Justice and Construction Party.”

The report summarised the following on the accounts it deleted which were targeting Libya:

• Presence on Facebook and Instagram: 41 Facebook accounts, 133 Pages, three Groups and 14 Instagram accounts.
• Followers: About 1.7 million accounts followed one or more of these Pages, around 600 people joined one or more of these Groups and about 4,000 accounts followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
• Advertising: Around $59,000 in spending for ads on Facebook and Instagram paid for primarily in US dollars and Swiss franc.

The report by Meta Platforms highlights a well-known online strategy used by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated networks based in Turkey, but which hitherto seemed to have been neglected by researchers specialising in online harassment, bots, and fake news. The report by Meta Platforms on the CIBs is likely to trigger more investigation, awareness and institutional oversight into their nature, reach, and methods of online misinformation in Libya.

© ALMARSAD ENGLISH (2022)