Facebook removes Azeri network for coordinated inauthentic behavior

October 9, 2020 – 10:49 AMT

PanARMENIAN.NetFacebook has removed an Azerbaijani network of 589 accounts, 7,906 Pages and 447 accounts on Instagram that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior, the company said Thursday, October 8.

While the individuals behind this activity used fake accounts — some of which had been already detected and disabled by our automated systems — they primarily relied on authentic accounts to create Pages designed to look like user profiles — using false names and stock images — to comment and artificially boost the popularity of particular pro-government content.

The network appeared to engage individuals in Azerbaijan to manage Pages with the sole purpose of leaving supportive and critical commentary on Pages of international and local media, public figures including opposition and the ruling party of Azerbaijan, to create a perception of wide-spread criticism of some views and wide-spread support of others.

They posted primarily in Azerbaijani, and also in Russian and English. Their comments frequently touched on local and regional news and events, politics, government policies, tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenia’s actions during past escalations in Nagorno-, praise of President Ilham Aliyev and the New Azerbaijan Party, criticism of the opposition party and leaders accusing them of treason, and denials of human rights abuse allegations in Azerbaijan.

Facebook says their investigation linked the activity to the Youth Union of New Azerbaijan Party.

Azerbaijan, with help from Turkey, launched a large-scale offensive against Karabakh () in the morning of September 27, shelling Armenian positions and civilian settlements with large caliber weapons and rocket systems. Armenia and Karabakh have introduced martial law and total mobilization. The Armenian side has reported deaths and injuries both among the civilian population and the military. International and local journalists too have been injured in Azeri shelling of towns and villages.

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