Facebook removes accounts tied to Iranian exile group

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Facebook said on Tuesday it has removed hundreds of fake accounts linked to an Iranian exile group and a troll farm in Albania.

Facebook determined the accounts were being run from a single location in Albania by a group of individuals working on behalf of MEK. Facebook found other telltale clues suggesting a so-called troll farm, in which workers are often paid to post content, including misinformation, to social media. Facebook said it removes such accounts based on how they behave, not on the material they post.

For one, researchers found that the activity seemed to follow the central European workday, with posts picking up after 9am, slowing down at the end of the day, and with a noticeable pause at lunch time. Facebook, however, said it did not find evidence of people being paid. “Even trolls need to eat,” said Ben Nimmo, who works on Facebook’s global threat intelligence investigations, on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

Facebook app is seen on a screen of a mobile device. PHOTO: AFP