The Metazuck Shuts Down Iranian Accounts Posing as Scottish Nationalists

February 17, 2022

Here we have an all-too-rare case of Facebook (Meta) taking action against imposter accounts. Yahoo Finance reports, “Facebook Takes Down Fake Iranian Accounts that Posed as Scottish Locals.” The network in question, however, had not been particularly effective at influencing its target audience. Though the eight Facebook and 126 Instagram accounts had 77,000 followers between them, the most popular one only garnered 4,000 followers, and only half of those were actually located in the UK. We suppose even small victories can be used for PR purposes.

We are told the fake Scots were firm supporters of Scottish independence and critical of the UK government. The creators of these false accounts may have expected more bang for their rial, for they put in an unusual amount of effort to make them seem real. Reporter Karissa Bell writes:

“In a call with reporters, Facebook’s Global IO Threat Intelligence Lead, Ben Nimmo, said that it’s not the first time the company has caught Iran-linked fake accounts targeting Scotland, but that the latest network stood out for its ‘artisanal’ approach to the fake personas. ‘What was unique about this case was the effort that the operators took to make their fakes look like real people,’ Nimmo said. He noted the accounts spent considerable time posting about their ‘side interests,’ like football, in an attempt to boost their credibility. Some of the accounts also lifted profile photos from real celebrities or media personalities, and regularly updated the images in order to appear more real. Other accounts used fake photos generated by AI programs.”

That is a lot of effort to foment a bit of unrest in a corner of the UK. We wonder what else these imposters are up to and what they have planned for the future.

Cynthia Murrell, February 17, 2021


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