Facebook Blocks MEK Troll Farm In Albania

Facebook Blocks MEK Troll Farm In Albania

Albanian Media, April 15 2021:… In terms of the technical infrastructure, Facebook said most accounts were run from Albania who shared the same network. This meant the same individual could run multiple accounts. Facebook said these were “some of the hallmarks of a so-called troll farm”. The report said that many of the accounts used pictures of deceased dissidents, Iranian celebrities, models, and even children. Some had even used photos that appeared to be generated using machine learning techniques. Facebook Blocks MEK Troll Farm In Albania 

Heshmat Alavi and MEK MEK Impunity Undermining Democracy

Facebook Blocks MEK Troll Farm In Albania 

Facebook Blocks MEK Troll Farm In Albania

1- Facebook Clamps Down on Iranian Dissident ‘Troll Farm’ In Albania
 
Fjori Sinoruka, Balkan Insider, Tirana, April 7, 2021
Link to the source

Facebook has closed over 300 accounts belonging to members of the exiled Iranian dissident group Mojahedin-e Khalq, MEK, which is now based in Albania, saying their ‘inauthentic behavior’ violated company policy.

Facebook removed more than 300 Facebook and Instagram accounts belonging to members of an Iranian dissident group based in Albania that had been targeting Iran and content related to Iran.

“The network violated our policy against foreign interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign entity,” the social media giant said in its March report, “Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report”, which it published on Tuesday.

According to the report, the network now taken down was very active in 2017 and in the second half of 2020.

“The people behind this activity relied on a combination of authentic and fake accounts to post MEK-related content and comment on their own and other people’s posts, including those of international news organizations like Radio Liberty, Voice of America and BBC,” said the report.

The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, MEK, is an Iranian opposition group many of whose members moved to Albania in 2013 on the advice of the US. They live mainly in a camp on the outskirts of the capital Tirana.

Facebook added that it will continue to monitor any attempts to re-establish the network by people behind this campaign.

“The operation relied heavily on fake accounts to post and amplify its messages. Some of these accounts went through repeated name changes. Other accounts used the names of deceased members of MEK. Some claimed to be located in Iran but were operated from Albania. All the accounts were overt in their support of MEK and their criticism of the Iranian government,” the report continued.

Some of the fake accounts were a decade old but most of them were created between 2014 and 2016. They were particularly active in 2017, reduced activity in 2018–2019 and resumed in 2020.

2- Facebook Removes 300 Accounts tied to Iranian exile group MEK in Albania

Tirana Times, April 13, 2021
Link to the source

A network of 300 Facebook accounts, Pages, Groups and accounts on Instagram which appeared to be run from a single location in Albania and operated by the exiled militant opposition group from Iran, Mojahedin-e Khalq  (MEK), were removed by Facebook, due to their “coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign country.” According to the March 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour Report published by Facebook, the network “targeted primarily Iran and also global audiences with content related to Iran.” During the investigation, Facebook uncovered three separate clusters of activity, which included “consistent and long-running infrastructure connections between the fake accounts and authentic accounts of MEK-linked individuals and Pages operated from Albania.”

According to Facebook, the network operated by MEK appeared to have been most active in 2017, with another spike in activity in the second half of 2020. Although they posted at high volumes, in general, they failed to build an audience on Fb, with only some exceptions. The people behind this activity relied on a combination of authentic and fake accounts to “post MEK-related content and comment on their own and other people’s posts, including those of international news organizations like Radio Liberty, Voice of   America, and BBC. They also frequently posted links to websites and other social media channels affiliated with MEK.” Although the network used a variety of tactics to disguise its fake accounts, the automated system of FB disabled over the years a significant portion of them, while some accounts were also disabled since they violated the Community Standards against violence and incitement.

Regarding the followers that these accounts attracted, Fb reported that about 9,000 accounts followed one or more of the 41 Pages created, about 150 accounts joined at least one of the 21 Groups created, and around 112,000 people followed one or more of the 146 Instagram accounts. There were also 128 accounts on Facebook. The network almost exclusively “posted about events in, or related to, Iran. It routinely praised the activity of MEK and its leaders and criticized the Iranian government,” the report adds. In many cases, the accounts used fake profile names and photos, while other accounts used photos of Iranian celebrities or deceased dissidents.

The operators according to FB routinely shared technical infrastructure, meaning that the same operator could run multiple accounts, and multiple operators could run the same account. “These are some of the hallmarks of a so-called troll farm — a physical location where a collective of operators share computers and phones to jointly manage a pool of fake accounts as part of an influence operation,” said the report of Facebook.

According to the Associated Press, “the National Council for Resistance in Iran, an umbrella group that includes MEK, said in a statement that no accounts affiliated with it or MEK have been removed. The group also denied the existence of an Albanian troll farm affiliated with MEK.”

MEK is an Iranian opposition group many of whose members moved to Albania in 2013, where they live in a camp on the outskirts of Tirana.

3- Facebook Accuses MEK of Running “Troll Farm” from Albania

Alice Taylor 07-04-2021
Link to the source

Facebook has taken down a number of “deceptive campaigns” and networks including one from Albania.

In a statement published on their website, Facebook said they had investigated and disrupted a “long-running operation from Albania that targeted primarily Iran.”

They observed that while the network had limited success in gaining any kind of meaningful audience, it was run by “what appears to be a tightly organized troll farm linked to an exiled militant opposition group from Iran, Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK).”

During March alone, they removed 128 accounts, 41 pages, 21 groups, and 146 Instagram accounts based in the country. They had some 121,000 combined followers.

Facebook said these accounts were targeting “global audiences including Iran.”

“The network violated our policy against foreign interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign entity,” they wrote in their in-depth report.

As a part of their investigation into the network, Facebook said they found “three separate clusters of activity” that included the consistent and long-running connection between fake and authentic accounts of MEK individuals and pages, all of which were operating from within Albania.

They said the network was most active in 2017 but experienced a spike in the second half of 2020. Despite posting at “high volumes”, they mostly failed to gain a following.

“This campaign appeared to operate according to a shift pattern on Central European Time with a dip in activity in the early afternoon consistent with a lunch break, and a nearly complete pause overnight.

The individuals involved posted MEK-related content on their, and others posts. They included links to international media sites and to sites affiliated with the MEK. Facebook found that they exclusively talked about Iran and “routinely praised the activity of MEK  and its leaders and criticized the Iranian government.”

In terms of the technical infrastructure, Facebook said most accounts were run from Albania who shared the same network. This meant the same individual could run multiple accounts. Facebook said these were “some of the hallmarks of a so-called troll farm”.

The report said that many of the accounts used pictures of deceased dissidents, Iranian celebrities, models, and even children. Some had even used photos that appeared to be generated using machine learning techniques.

It was noted that the operation put significant effort into driving traffic to sites run by or associated with MEK including their official website and other sites linked to the organization.

The National Council for Resistance in Iran, an organization that includes MEK, issued a statement to the media denying that any accounts affiliated with MEK have been removed. They also denied that there was a troll farm in Albania affiliated with them in any way.

In 2019, an Exit was able to visit the MEK compound in Manez near Durres. You can read the account of the visit here.

END

Facebook Blocks MEK Troll Farm In Albania 

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Also read:
https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/300-fake-mek-facebook-accounts/

300 Fake MEK-Facebook Accounts Tip of the Iceberg

Ebrahim Khodabandeh: 300 Fake MEK-Facebook AccountsEbrahim Khodabandeh, April 08 2021:… Removing 300 fake MEK accounts, after so many years, constitutes only one percent of the actual amount of this type of account operating from Albania. Last year, on April 22, 2020, The Intercept reported on a fake identity created by the MEK in Albania called “Heshmat Alavi” whose misinformation was quoted by Donald Trump as well as Mike Pompeo against Iran. 300 Fake MEK-Facebook Accounts Tip of the Iceberg 

Ebrahim Khodabandeh: 300 Fake MEK-Facebook AccountsMojahedin Khalq (MEK, MKO, NCRI, Rajavi cult) keyboard warriors target journalists, Academics, activists

 

300 Fake MEK-Facebook Accounts Tip of the Iceberg 

Facebook Blocks MEK Troll Farm In Albania 

Removing 300 fake MEK accounts after so long is only one percent of the actual amount of this type of account

Ebrahim Khodabandeh

Associated Press (AP News) reported on April 7, 2021 that Facebook has removed about 300 Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) linked fake accounts run from Albania.

https://apnews.com/article/europe-albania-iran-media-misinformation-8afcd143546fada00b88ff09ac810b31?fbclid=IwAR2F_i3EebAhavZjH5F6fPtOUvXzoUTnjoTE7Gl_3Jv-rWIC5dsfusZQNEc

The news was widely reported in the international media.

Link to the detailed report by Facebook (PDF)

Ebrahim Khodabandeh

Ebrahim Khodabandeh . CEO Nejat Society

However, it should be noted that according to information obtained from a large number of former members of the Rajavi cult in Albania, which has been reflected in international media in the past couple of years, the MEK cyber unit or troll farm in this country contains 1,500 people, each with about 20 fake accounts in cyberspace which target the peace and security of Iranian society.

The followers of this destructive mind control cult, who are in fact modern slaves, are engaged in producing and spreading rumours and posting misinformation from various accounts against the national interests of the Iranian people all day long, like robots, based on a specific schedule.

Removing 300 fake MEK accounts, after so many years, constitutes only one percent of the actual amount of this type of account operating from Albania.

Last year, on April 22, 2020, The Intercept reported on a fake identity created by the MEK in Albania called “Heshmat Alavi” whose misinformation was quoted by Donald Trump as well as Mike Pompeo against Iran.

https://theintercept.com/2020/04/22/trump-heshmat-alavi-twitter-mek/

The Intercept also reported on June 9, 2019 that Alavi is a composite identity run by a team of MEK members based mainly at the group’s compound in Albania, according to defectors who were involved with managing the account and other sources. The article says:

“Alavi’s articles also mixed criticisms of Iran and U.S. policy with overt advocacy for the MEK. His pieces in the Daily Caller, The Hill, and other outlets — though less numerous than his contributions to Forbes — employed a similar mix of advocacy against the Iranian regime and praise for the MEK. Though the MEK is known to be widely loathed among Iranians, Alavi described the group as the “main Iranian opposition group” in a 2017 Daily Caller article.”

https://theintercept.com/2019/06/09/heshmat-alavi-fake-iran-mek/

Aljazeera News, wrote on June 15, 2019 in an article titled ‘US-Iran debates: Fake writers and state-funded trolling’ that:

“As the Trump administration continues with its hawkish talk on Iran, we need to look at how that story is being crafted and by whom: Heshmat Alavi was once cited by the White House as a credible commentator on Iran. Shame he doesn’t exist. It turns out he is a fictional persona reportedly created by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK), a shadowy group opposed to the Iranian government and supported by Washington.”

In this regards The American Conservative in a lengthy article titled ‘Another Opinion Columnist Pushing War with Iran Who Doesn’t Actually Exist’ wrote about this matter on Sep 2, 2020, emphasizing that:

“The list of MEK disinformation tactics also includes fake online since-deleted sites such as PersiaNow and ArabEye and questionable sites such as Iran Focus whose domain was formerly registered under the name of an NCRI spokesperson and is now anonymously held.”

“MEK’s recent influence campaign on Facebook spearheaded by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) was recently reported on last year by Lachlan Markey at the Daily Beast. Markey explained how NCRI lobbyist Soheila Aligholi Mayelzadeh has helped place paid ads on Facebook reaching between 500,000 to 1.4 million users as part of the campaign to sway US public opinion in favor of MEK and intervention in Iran.”

“The list of outright fakes recently in the realm of foreign policy analysis is significant: there is the apparent Emirati fabrication Raphael Badani to MEK sock puppet Alavi, first revealed by The Intercept, to deep fake non-existent anti-Palestinian activist Oliver Taylor, whose work was placed at highly-respected publications in the United States and Israel.”

The American Conservative also wrote on January 6, 202I in an article titled ‘Rejecting Regime Change for Good’ that:

“The U.S. government doesn’t understand the countries in question, it relies on bad information that is frequently offered to them by self-serving exiles and activists, and it doesn’t know how to do state-and-institution-building on such a large scale in any case. The U.S. has expended vast resources for decades on some of these policies with remarkably little to show for it, so it is laughable to think that the problem is insufficient resources. There are things that are simply beyond our government’s power. The answer is not to do regime change on the cheap, as the U.S. tried in Libya, but to reject regime change.”

The Independent wrote on June 11, 2019 under the title ‘Heshmat Alavi Gate’ (Trump and MEK):

 “The Heshmat Alavi persona had a strong presence on Twitter and harassed Iranian journalists, academics, and activists who are critical of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organisation, a one-time armed guerilla group now holed up in Albania. There is no known link between the Iran Disinfo programme and the fake persona. At least one was cited by the Trump administration as proof against the effectiveness of the Obama-era nuclear deal. Some of the MEK articles were also picked up by US government funded Voice of America’s Persian-language service.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/us-iran-congress-meeting-money-trump-conflict-a8954191.html

300 Fake MEK-Facebook Accounts Tip of the Iceberg

Facebook Blocks MEK Troll Farm In Albania 

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EU Commissioner Ylva Johansson Ebrahim KhodabandehEU Commissioner Ylva Johansson Asked To Look Into The MEK Problem In Albania

Lucrative MEK Fake Accounts Interfering In American PoliticsLucrative MEK Fake Accounts Interfering In American Politics

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Also read:
https://iran-interlink.org/wordpress/trump-campaign-uses-mujahedin-e-khalq-troll-farm-in-albania/

Trump Campaign Uses Mujahedin-e-Khalq ( MEK ) Troll Farm In Albania

Trump Campaign Uses Mujahedin-e-Khalq Troll Farm In Albania

Massoud Khodabandeh, Iran Interlink, October 28 2020:… leading up to the U.S. Presidential election, Iranian-American journalists and other commentators and campaigners are suffering an onslaught of online attacks. Some of these relentless Tweets include death threats. Targeting critics of Trump and his legacy like Jamal Abdi (Head of National Iranian American Council), Negar Mortazavi (prominent Journalist for The Independent and other outlets) and Dr Asal Rad (Historian). The attacks emanate from the MEK’s troll farm in Albania. The MEK’s Heshmat Alavi account is still being used in spite of it being exposed as a fake account last year by Murteza Hussain in The Intercept. Trump Campaign Uses Mujahedin-e-Khalq ( MEK ) Troll Farm In Albania .

Trump clearly has no intention of defeating terrorism.Trump clearly has no intention of defeating terrorism.

Trump Campaign Uses Mujahedin-e-Khalq ( MEK ) Troll Farm In Albania

Trump Campaign Uses Mujahedin-e-Khalq Troll Farm In Albania

Trump Campaign Uses Mujahedin-e-Khalq Troll Farm In Albania

In the final days leading up to the U.S. Presidential election, Iranian-American journalists and other commentators and campaigners are suffering an onslaught of online attacks. Some of these relentless Tweets include death threats. Targeting critics of Trump and his legacy like Jamal Abdi (Head of National Iranian American Council), Negar Mortazavi (prominent Journalist for The Independent and other outlets) and Dr Asal Rad (Historian).

On one occasion even Richard Grenell, who has recently been politely expelled from Germany (they really couldn’t stand his regular racist comments and unacceptable interference in European affairs), now the guy who runs the Trump2020 campaign, has retweeted one of these tweets.

The attacks emanate from the MEK’s troll farm in Albania. The MEK’s Heshmat Alavi account is still being used in spite of it being exposed as a fake account last year by Murteza Hussain in The Intercept.

Revealingly, the Trump campaign has joined in with these attacks, amplifying the threats, harassment and lies through Re-Tweets and Shares on social media.

It is common knowledge that Saudi Arabia’s Sheikh Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS) is seriously worried about the departure of Trump, opening the prospect of investigations into the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, ordered by him and carried out in the Saudi Embassy in Turkey. The Mojahedin-e-Khalq for their part are both worried about the future of their new benefactor (Saudi’s Mokhaberat after the fall of Saddam), and worried about their own future as pressure on Albania to give them free rein there may be lifted and the members would be subjected to the plan of deradicalization and integration as was planned by the Obama administration. This will place Maryam Rajavi in a particularly difficult position since she was deported from France and has been confined in Albania without the possibility of being granted a visa from any western countries.

(End)

Trump Campaign Uses Mujahedin-e-Khalq Troll Farm In Albania

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American Hostages and MEK(Iraq shelters terrorist groups including the Mujahedin-e-Khalq Organization (MKO), which has used terrorist violence against Iran and in the 1970s was responsible for killing several U.S. military personnel and U.S. civilians)

MEK Assassinated AmericansThe MEK’s dirty past includes the anti-Imperialist inspired murder of six Americans in pre-revolution Iran which it later celebrated in songs and publications

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