Facebook took down over 400 assets based in Iraqi Kurdistan for coordinated inauthentic behavior. The assets on Facebook and Instagram posted on a range of issues, but they typically supported the Kurdish political party the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and its co-leader Lahur Talabani “Sheikh Jangi” and criticized the governing Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and its leaders from the Barzani family.
The Facebook Company statement reads “We also removed 324 Pages, 71 accounts, 5 Groups and 31 Instagram accounts. This activity originated in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and focused on domestic audiences. This network used fake accounts… Our investigation connected this activity to individuals associated with Zanyari Agency, part of the intelligence services of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan”.
As it announced the takedown on June 5, Facebook said, “The individuals behind this network used fake accounts — some of which had been previously detected and disabled by our automated systems — to post in Groups, impersonate local politicians and political parties, and manage Pages masquerading as local news entities.”
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to individuals associated with Zanyari Agency, part of the intelligence services of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraqi Kurdistan.”
The Zanyari Agency is a PUK-affiliated intelligence agency. Lahur Talabani is its director.
Before the takedown, Facebook shared a list of assets with Graphika for independent analysis.
Link to one FB statement: https://about.fb.com/news/2020/06/may-cib-report/
Linke to Graphika report: https://public-assets.graphika.com/reports/graphika_report_kurdistan_takedown.pdf