Facebook has taken down several accounts, Pages, and Groups that originated in Pakistan and targeted primarily domestic audiences in addition to also focusing on English, Arabic, and Pashto-speaking audiences globally.

Facebook removed 40 Facebook accounts, 25 Pages, six Groups and 28 Instagram accounts that originated in Pakistan.

“We found this activity as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour with some links to the network we removed in April 2019. We linked it to individuals associated with AlphaPro, a Pakistan-based PR firm,” the social network said in a statement on Thursday.

In total, the company removed 123 malicious accounts, 77 Instagram accounts, 55 Pages and 12 Groups as part of its latest action over coordinated inauthentic behaviour (CIB) networks in the month of May.

“We removed 83 Facebook accounts, 30 Pages, six Groups and 49 Instagram accounts operated by local nationals in Sudan on behalf of individuals in Russia. This network targeted primarily Sudan,” Facebook said.

“We linked this latest activity to individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA),” it added.

Facebook has taken down over 150 covert influence operations in the last four years or so that originated from over 50 nations, including India, and violated its policies.

The covert influence operations (IO) originated from 2017 through mid-2021 and targeted both foreign and domestic public debate.

In February 2020, Facebook removed a network operated by an Indian digital marketing firm, aRep Global.

The Indian firm focused on a wide range of topics: from politics in the Gulf region to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

“This operation attempted to drive people to their websites posing as news outlets and relied on nearly a dozen platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, and Medium,” Facebook said.

In 2020, Facebook began reporting on its broader enforcement against deceptive tactics that do not rise to the level of CIB, to keep adding to the public’s understanding of these often financially-motivated behaviours.

In response to this rising threat, a community of defenders that includes social media platforms, civil society advocates, open-source researchers, law enforcement, and the media have all fielded teams to expose influence operations (IO) and take it down, the company said.

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