Skip to Content
Silicon Valley

Facebook and Twitter have taken down hundreds of Iranian accounts that attempted to mislead users

August 22, 2018

The social networks have removed content related to an Iranian political misinformation campaign.

The news: Last night, Facebook announced it has removed 652 fake users and pages related to Iranian and Russian efforts to mislead users. The efforts originating from Iran dated back to 2011 and were targeted at a variety of areas including the Middle East, Latin America, Britain, and the US. Soon after, Twitter followed suit and took down 284 accounts also associated with Iran.

Again? Last month Facebook removed another 32 users and pages related to Russian efforts to influence politics ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Despite these continued reports, according to Pew, only 15 percent of Russians believe their country interfered in the 2016 US election.

Why now? The platform’s increased diligence in removing these accounts and reporting them publicly is due to public scrutiny of whether it can avoid the issues of foreign influence that affected the 2016 election.

Why it matters: Although the removal echoes other incidents recently, it is distinct in two respects. First, the misinformation campaigns targeted several countries, not just the US, and second, Iran has been revealed as a significant new source of misinformation. Fake news, it turns out, is going global in a big way.

Deep Dive

Silicon Valley

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Twitter’s potential collapse could wipe out vast records of recent human history

What happens when the world’s knowledge is held in a quasi-public square owned by a private company that could soon go out of business?

Twitter may have lost more than a million users since Elon Musk took over

Estimates from Bot Sentinel suggest that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, while half a million more were suspended.

Former Twitter employees fear the platform might only last weeks

An ultimatum by Elon Musk demanding "extremely hardcore" working culture appears to have backfired. Insiders fear this could spell the end without drastic changes.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.