Facebook on Monday announced the expansion of its third-party fact-checking programme with the addition of international partner AFP and Bangladesh-based organization Fact Watch, as part of its ongoing efforts to reduce the spread of misinformation in Bangladesh. AFP and Fact Watch join Boom, who has partnered with Facebook since 2020 when the program was first introduced in Bangladesh. AFP and Fact Watch, which have been certified by the Poynter Institute's non-partisan International Fact Checking Network (IFCN), will review and rate the accuracy of Bangla and English stories on Facebook, including photos and videos in Bangladesh, said a media release. When third-party fact-checkers rate a story as false, altered or partly false, it will appear lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution on Facebook. Instagram will also make it harder to find by filtering from Explore and hashtag pages, and downranking it in Feed. Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetize and advertise removed. In addition, content across Facebook and Instagram that has been rated false or altered is prominently labeled so people can better decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share. These labels are shown on top of false and altered photos and videos, including on top of Stories content on Instagram and link out to the assessment from the fact-checker. Facebook's fact-checking program started in December 2016. Today, the social media platform has over 80 partners fact-checking content in over 60 languages. “Expanding our fact-checking program with new partners from AFP and Fact Watch, is an important step in our effort to reduce false news which requires the support of the broader community. As part of our effort to build more informed communities, the University of Liberal Arts Bangladesh, the IFCN and our fact-checking partners will host a discussion on the importance of fact-checking during the pandemic. We welcome the efforts and hope to work together to help build a more informed community in Bangladesh,” said Anjali Kapoor, Director of News Partnership, APAC at Facebook. Last year, Facebook worked with the Ministry of Education, ICT Division and civil society partners in Bangladesh to launch We Think Digital, the company’s flagship program to empower the next generation of digital-first citizens to become more responsible and create respectful communities online. Last week, the Facebook Journalism Project and Reuters launched Reuters Digital Journalism Course in Bangladesh to help journalists build a strong foundation in digital reporting and editing. Facebook has been working with Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and ICT Division to help people access information about COVID-19, hygiene practices and vaccines. In April, the social media platform also launched a media literacy campaign in Bangladesh to tackle COVID-related misinformation.
Facebook has partnered with UN Women Bangladesh to conduct a daylong virtual programme on digital citizenship and online safety for over 80 participants from 30 grassroots and community organizations in Bangladesh. Representatives from Facebook led sessions covering a wide range of topics including managing digital presence, privacy tools, and online safety for women. Also Read: Women often assaulted online in Asia but find limited recourse: UN Women study “Women around the world are empowered by digital tools to organize for causes they care about. At Facebook, we continue to invest in digital literacy and citizenship, resiliency, and safety programs around the world, including Bangladesh. We are delighted to partner with UN Women in Bangladesh as we support and promote communities led by women and invested in women,” said Beth Ann Lim, Director of Policy Programs for Facebook in Asia Pacific. This workshop marks a continuation of Facebook’s partnership with UN Women Bangladesh which began on International Women’s Day in March this year, through LedByHer, a social media campaign to feature Bangladeshi women leaders and the role that digital platforms can play to tell their stories and build resilience. Later this year, Facebook and UN Women Bangladesh will be hosting a series of intergenerational dialogues between women of different ages from the same fields. Shoko Ishikawa, Country Representative for UN Women Bangladesh said digital space has given a new dimension to gender-based violence that continues to be normalized and embedded in our societies. Also Read: Facebook supports COVID-19 health awareness and vaccine rollout in Bangladesh UN Women Bangladesh is working with public and private universities to build the capacity of young women for creating positive content and counter misogynistic speech, she said. “We thank Facebook for this partnership and hope it will help organizations working on women empowerment, human rights and marginalized populations to use digital tools more effectively and build a more inclusive community.” Facebook regularly engages with civil society groups in Bangladesh and around the world to help inform its policies and programs. This workshop is just one of its investments to build a safer digital space in Bangladesh, especially for women. The company has plans to build on the workshop and work closely with organizations and community groups to increase their capacity and help create a more informed and responsible online community. Also read:90,000 adolescents to get training on online safety Last year, Facebook launched its flagship program We Think Digital in Bangladesh in partnership with the ICT Division, Ministry of Education and UNDP Bangladesh. This global program helps people improve their digital capabilities and promotes responsible digital citizenship, as well as critical thinking and sharing thoughtfully online.
Lurking beneath Facebook’s decision on whether to continue Donald Trump’s suspension from its platform is a far more complex and consequential question: Do the protections carved out for companies when the internet was in its infancy 25 years ago make sense when some of them have become global powerhouses with almost unlimited reach? The companies have provided a powerful megaphone for Trump, other world leaders and billions of users to air their grievances, even ones that are false or damaging to someone’s reputation, knowing that the platforms themselves were shielded from liability for content posted by users. Now that shield is getting a critical look in the current climate of hostility toward Big Tech and the social environment of political polarization, hate speech and violence against minorities. The debate is starting to take root in Congress, and the action this week by Facebook’s quasi-independent oversight board upholding the company’s suspension of Trump’s accounts could add momentum to that legislative effort. Under the 1996 Communications Decency Act, digital platform companies have legal protection both for content they carry and for removing postings they deem offensive. The shelter from lawsuits and prosecution applies to social media posts, uploaded videos, user reviews of restaurants or doctors, classified ads — or the doxing underworld of thousands of websites that profit from false and defamatory information on individuals. Section 230 of the law, which outlines the shield, was enacted when many of the most powerful social media companies didn’t even exist. It allowed companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google to grow into the behemoths they are today. Republicans accuse the social media platforms of suppressing conservative voices and giving a stage to foreign leaders branded as dictators, while Trump is barred. Democrats and civil rights groups decry the digital presence of far-right extremists and pin blame on the platforms for disseminating hate speech and stoking extremist violence. “For too long, social media platforms have hidden behind Section 230 protections to censor content that deviates from their beliefs,” Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the senior Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, has said. Also read: Facebook board’s Trump decision could have wider impacts On this, Trump and President Joe Biden apparently agree. Trump, while president, called for the repeal of Section 230, branding it “a serious threat to our national security and election integrity.” Biden said during his campaign that it “immediately should be revoked,” though he hasn’t spoken about the issue at length as president. Facebook, with a strong lobbying presence in Washington and a desire to have an input into any changes, has stepped out in favor of revisions to Section 230. Congress should update the 1996 law “to make sure it’s working as intended,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said. And he’s offered a specific suggestion: Congress could require internet platforms to gain legal protection only by proving that their systems for identifying illegal content are up to snuff. Some critics see a clever gambit in that, a requirement that could make it more difficult for smaller tech companies and startups to comply and would ultimately advantage Facebook over smaller competitors. Spokespeople for Twitter and Google declined to comment on the prospects for legislative action on Section 230 following the Facebook board ruling; a spokesperson for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook had no immediate comment. The decision announced by the Facebook oversight board upheld the suspension of Trump, an extremely rare move that was based on the company’s conclusion that he incited violence leading to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot. But the overseers told Facebook to specify how long the suspension would last, saying its “indefinite” ban on the former president was unreasonable. The ruling, which gives Facebook six months to comply, effectively postpones any possible Trump reinstatement and puts the onus for that decision squarely back on the company. Trump was permanently banned after the riot from Twitter, his favored bullhorn. But it was Facebook that played an integral role in both of Trump’s campaigns, not just as a way to speak to his more than 32 million followers but also as a fundraising juggernaut driving small-dollar contributions through highly targeted ads. Critics of Facebook generally saw the oversight board’s ruling as positive. But some view the board as a distraction by Facebook to skirt its responsibility and to stave off action by Congress or the Biden administration. What must be addressed, critics insist, are the broader problems for society from the fearsome power, market dominance and underlying business model of Facebook and the other tech giants — harvesting data from platform users and making it available to online advertisers so they can pinpoint consumers to target. Also read: Trump-era spike in Israeli settlement growth has only begun That’s where the debate over changes to Section 230 comes in, as a key area for new regulation of social media. Gautam Hans, a technology law and free-speech expert and professor at Vanderbilt University, said he finds the board to be “a bit of a sideshow from the larger policy and social questions that we have about these companies.”
Since the day after the deadly Jan. 6 riots on the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump’s social media accounts have been silent — muzzled for inciting violence using the platforms as online megaphones. On Wednesday, his fate on Facebook, the biggest social platform around, will be decided. The company’s quasi-independent Oversight Board will announce its ruling around 9 a.m. ET. If it rules in Trump’s favor, Facebook has seven days to reinstate the account. If the board upholds Facebook’s decision, Trump will remain “indefinitely” suspended. Also Read:Trump-era spike in Israeli settlement growth has only begun Politicians, free speech experts and activists around the world are watching the decision closely. It has implications not only for Trump but for tech companies, world leaders and people across the political spectrum — many of whom have wildly conflicting views of the proper role for technology companies when it comes to regulating online speech and protecting people from abuse and misinformation. After years of handling Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric with a light touch, Facebook and Instagram took the drastic step of silencing his accounts in January. In announcing the unprecedented move, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the risk of allowing Trump to continue using the platform was too great. “The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on Jan. 7. A day before the announcement, Trump unveiled a new blog on his personal website, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.” While the page includes a dramatic video claiming, “A BEACON OF FREEDOM ARISES” and hailing “A PLACE TO SPEAK FREELY AND SAFELY,” the page is little more than a displays of Trump’s recent statements — available elsewhere on the website — that can be easily shared on Facebook and Twitter, the platforms that banished him after the riot. While Trump aides have spent months teasing his plans to launch his own social media platform, his spokesman Jason Miller said the blog was something separate. “President Trump’s website is a great resource to find his latest statements and highlights from his first term in office, but this is not a new social media platform,” he tweeted. “We’ll have additional information coming on that front in the very near future.” Also Read: Trump goes after Pence, McConnell in speech to party donors Barred from social media, Trump has embraced other platforms for getting his message out. He does frequent interviews with friendly news outlets and has emailed a flurry of statements to reporters through his official office and political group. Trump has even said he prefers the statements to his old tweets, often describing them as more “elegant.” Facebook created the oversight panel to rule on thorny content on its platforms following widespread criticism of its difficulty responding swiftly and effectively to misinformation, hate speech and nefarious influence campaigns. Its decisions so far — all nine of them — have tended to favor free expression over the restriction of content. In its first rulings, the panel overturned four out of five decisions by the social network to take down questionable material. It ordered Facebook to restore posts by users that the company said broke standards on adult nudity, hate speech, or dangerous individuals. Critics of Facebook, however, worry that the Oversight Board is a mere distraction from the company’s deeper problems — ones that can’t be addressed in a handful of high-profile cases by a semi-independent body of experts. “Facebook set the rules, are judge, jury and executioner and control their own appeals court and their own Supreme Court. The decisions they make have an impact on our democracies, national security and biosecurity and cannot be left to their own in house theatre of the absurd,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO Center for Countering Digital Hate, a nonprofit critical of Facebook. “Whatever the judgement tomorrow, this whole fiasco shows why we need democratic regulation of Big Tech.” Also Read: Trump: The key to Republican success is more Trumpism Gautam Hans, a technology law and free speech expert and professor at Vanderbilt University, said he finds the Oversight Board structure to be “frustrating and a bit of a sideshow from the larger policy and social questions that we have about these companies.” “To some degree, Facebook is trying to create an accountability mechanism that I think undermines efforts to have government regulation and legislation,” Hans said. “If any other company decided, well, we’re just going to outsource our decision-making to some quasi-independent body, that would be thought of as ridiculous.”
Apple is following through on its pledge to crack down on Facebook and other snoopy apps that secretly shadow people on their iPhones in order to target more advertising at users. The new privacy feature, dubbed “App Tracking Transparency,” rolled out Monday as part of an update to the operating system powering the iPhone and iPad. The anti-tracking shield included in iOS 14.5 arrives after a seven-month delay during which Apple and Facebook attacked each other’s business models and motives for decisions that affect billions of people around the world. “What this feud demonstrates more than anything is that Facebook and Apple have tremendous gatekeeping powers over the market,” said Elizabeth Renieris, founding director of the Technology Ethics Lab at the University of Notre Dame. Also read: Apple signals return of right-wing 'free speech' app Parler But Apple says it is just looking out for the best interests of the more than 1 billion people currently using iPhones. “Now is a good time to bring this out, both because of because of the increasing amount of data they have on their devices, and their sensitivity (about the privacy risks) is increasing, too,” Erik Neuenschwander, Apple’s chief privacy engineer, told The Associated Press in an interview. Once the software update is installed -- something most iPhone users do -- even existing apps already on the device will be required to ask and receive consent to track online activities. That’s a shift Facebook fiercely resisted, most prominently in a series of full-page newspaper ads blasting Apple. Until now, Facebook and other apps have been able to automatically conduct their surveillance on iPhones unless users took the time and trouble to go into their settings to prevent it -- a process that few people bother to navigate. “This is an important step toward consumers getting the transparency and the controls they have clearly been looking for,” said Daniel Barber, CEO of DataGrail, a firm that helps companies manage personal privacy. In its attacks on Apple’s anti-tracking controls, Facebook blasted the move as an abuse of power designed to force more apps to charge for their services instead of relying on ads. Apple takes a 15% to 30% cut on most payments processed through an iPhone app. Online tracking has long helped Facebook and thousands of other apps accumulate information about their user’s interests and habits so they can show customized ads. Although Facebook executives initially acknowledged Apple’s changes would probably reduce its revenue by billions of dollars annually, the social networking company has framed most of its public criticism as a defense of small businesses that rely on online ads to stay alive. Also read: Apple CEO escalates battle with Facebook over online privacy Apple, in turn, has pilloried Facebook and other apps for prying so deeply into people’s lives that it has created a societal crisis. In a speech given a few weeks after the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol, Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out how personal information collected through tracking by Facebook and other social media can sometimes push people toward more misinformation and hate speech as part of the efforts to show more ads “What are the consequences of not just tolerating but rewarding content that undermines public trust in life-saving vaccinations?” Cook asked. “What are the consequences of seeing thousands of users join extremist groups and then perpetuating an algorithm that recommends more?” It’s part of Apple’s attempt to use the privacy issue to its competitive advantage, Barber said, a tactic he now expects more major brands to embrace if the new anti-tracking controls prove popular among most consumers. In a change of tone, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently suggested that Apple’s new privacy controls could actually help his company in the long run. His rationale: The inability to automatically track iPhone users may prod more companies to sell their products directly on Facebook and affiliated services such as Instagram if they can’t collect enough personal information to effectively target ads within their own apps. “It’s possible that we may even be in a stronger position if Apple’s changes encourage more businesses to conduct more commerce on our platforms by making it harder for them to use their data in order to find the customers that would want to use their products outside of our platforms,” Zuckerberg said last month during a discussion held on the audio chat app Clubhouse. In the same interview, Zuckerberg also asserted most people realize that advertising is a “time-tested model” that enables them to get more services for free or at extremely low prices. “People get for the most part that if they are going to see ads, they want them to be relevant ads,” Zuckerberg said. He didn’t say whether he believes most iPhone users will consent to tracking in exchange for ads tailored to their interests. Google also depends on personal information to fuel a digital ad network even bigger than Facebook’s, but it has said it would be able to adjust to the iPhone’s new privacy controls. Unlike Facebook, Google has close business ties with Apple. Google pays Apple an estimated $9 billion to $12 billion annually to be the preferred search engine on iPhone and iPad. That arrangement is currently one element of an antitrust case filed last year by the U.S. Justice Department. Facebook is also defending itself against a federal antitrust lawsuit seeking to break the company apart. Meanwhile, Apple is being scrutinized by lawmakers and regulators around the world for the commissions it collects on purchases made through iPhone apps and its ability to shake up markets through new rules that are turning it into a de facto regulator. “Even if Apple’s business model and side in this battle is more rights protective and better for consumer privacy, there is still a question of whether we want a large corporation like Apple effectively ‘legislating’ through the app store,” Renieris said.
Over 1.1 million Bangladeshis have been talking about environmental conservation on Facebook in the past three months. The three most popular topics are sustainable food, sustainable living and wildlife conservation. In Bangladesh, interest in issues related to climate change mirrors global sentiment.More people are also joining communities to learn more about issues and taking action. There are now more than 2 million Bangladeshis who are part of at least one of the 6,000 Facebook groups dedicated to the discovery, protection and appreciation of our environment. Also read: Hasina places 4 suggestions to deal with climate challenge “I continue to be inspired by Bangladeshis rallying together across our platforms to take action on climate change,” said Jordi Fornies, Facebook’s Director of Emerging Markets at APAC. “At Facebook, we recognise the urgency of climate change and are committed to help tackle this crisis affecting communities around the globe. Our operations are now 100 percent supported by renewable energy, and we are one of the largest corporate buyers of renewable energy globally.” Facebook is encouraging people across its platforms to take action and help protect the planet from climate crisis as it continues to impact communities around the world. According to a global survey conducted by Facebook in partnership with the Yale Program on Climate Communication, more than three-quarters of people from 30 countries believe in climate change, and 7 in 10 people were supportive of the Paris Climate Accord. Also read: Bangladesh, US to work together to address challenges of climate change To make it easier for people to take action against climate change, the social media platform is launching the Facebook Greenprint consumer guide, and a “Stand up for Earth” WhatsApp sticker pack that highlights some of the environmental challenges that we’re facing across the globe, and encourages actions like recycling, reducing electricity and saving water. There are also several wallpapers already in WhatsApp that show the beauty of the planet. The Facebook Greenprint is a digital guide that features 15 simple steps that people can take to protect the planet. These steps include joining a local Facebook Group or community to learn more about Bangladesh’s various environmental issues, attending a sustainable event in the area, donating to local wildlife organisations or shopping ethically on Instagram Shops. Also read: Climate Change: Biden's administration urged to take genuine leadership role Facebook will continue striving towards their climate change goals, and has committed to reaching net zero emissions for the value chain in 2030.
A Bangladeshi artist and developer teamed up with the support of Facebook to develop an Augmented Reality (AR) filter for Bangla New Year. This vibrant AR effect gave people the opportunity to welcome the Bangla New Year online and share the festivities with friends and family without leaving their homes, said a media release on Thursday. Also read:Facebook acknowledges a bug that blocked coronavirus news The social media platform supports local creators from around the world. This is the first AR filter that Facebook has helped create for Bangladesh in collaboration with local talent. Young developer Ishrat Urmi and artist Arafat Karim worked together to design and build the effect with emblems of Pohela Boishakh - mongol jatra, masks, and face paint in Bangla. Urmi is a member of the Facebook Developer Circle in Bangladesh, a community of innovators who receive opportunities from Facebook to develop their skills and network with developer communities from other countries. Post and Telecommunications Minister Mustafa Jabbar posted a video on his Facebook page and congratulated Facebook and the creators for this innovative initiative. The AR effect has been used and shared by many, including popular celebrities like Jaya Ahsan, Tahsan Khan, and Sabnam Faria. Also read:Facebook working on Instagram for kids under 13 Facebook family of apps connect people around the world and help them observe and participate in cultural moments no matter where they are. As COVID-19 cases spike in Bangladesh and people stay at home, online platforms and virtual sharing can help foster a sense of community and help people stay together while apart.
Facebook has partnered with Bangladesh’s ICT Division and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to announce a campaign to raise awareness about COVID-19 and help Bangladeshis get vaccinated. The campaign aims to increase people’s uptake of preventive health practices and vaccination intent in the country. Facebook will take several steps to holistically support vaccine rollout and the nationwide awareness campaign towards safe hygiene practices, particularly given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. Also read:Facebook acknowledges a bug that blocked coronavirus news By encouraging people to visit COVID-19 Information Center, which is also available in Bangla, the platform will make it easier for people to access credible information and best practices on preventive hygiene measures. It also contains modules on mental health and vaccine safety, and provides easy access to www.corona.gov.bd for latest government directives, said a media release on Tuesday. Through News Feed notifications, Facebook will direct people to register for COVID-19 vaccine on www.surokkha.gov.bd and nudge them to continue wearing masks. On World Health Day, the social media platform launched a public education campaign (www.fightcovidmisinfo.com) to help Bangladeshis learn how to identify and combat false information about COVID-19 and related health measures. The public education modules are available in Bangla to ensure that it is more relatable and practical to people in the country. “As Bangladesh is seeing a significant spike in COVID-19 cases like many parts of the world, it’s reassuring to see how health awareness and safe vaccination efforts have been ramped up to reach more people in the country,” said Sabhanaz Rashid Diya, who leads Public Policy for Bangladesh at Facebook. “By working closely with the national health agencies and public health experts, and using Facebook’s scale and speed to reach people, we are committed to do our part to help Bangladeshis access credible information, adopt safe health practices, get vaccinated and come together as a community.” Also read:Facebook working on Instagram for kids under 13 In Bangladesh, Facebook has been working closely with the ICT Division and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of Bangladesh throughout the pandemic to increase awareness on COVID-19 preventive health practices. “Today, it has become crucial for us, as a community, to work hand-in-hand to protect ourselves as increasing adoption of digital lifestyle by all walks of society exposes us to new risks of unprecedented proportions ranging from identity theft to wrong decision because of disinformation. I would like to thank Facebook for taking this broad measure and we are delighted to be part of this campaign to promote vaccination, mask wearing and social distancing to a much greater population,” said Anir Chowdhury, Policy Advisor of a2i (Aspire to Innovate) Programme, ICT Division and Cabinet Division, Government of Bangladesh and UNDP Bangladesh. He added, “At a2i, we are constantly coming up with new innovations and measures to ease the lives of our citizens during these difficult times. We look forward to working with Facebook in finding newer ways to help the citizens of our country.” Globally, Facebook has connected over 2 billion people to resources from health authorities through the COVID-19 Information Center and removed more than 12 million pieces of harmful misinformation about COVID-19 and approved vaccines from its family of apps.
Police have arrested a madrasa teacher under the Digital Security Act (DSA) in Lalmonirhat for sharing a "distorted" photo of the prime ministers of Bangladesh and India on Facebook. The 33-year-old, Zahidul Islam, was arrested from his house at Bhelabari union of Aditmari upazila of the district. He is the principal of Bhelabari Nurani Madrasa. Also read: Ctg youth sued under DSA for uploading ‘distorted images’ of PM, Modi, Quader Aditmari Police Station Officer-in-Charge Saiful Islam said, "Zahidul was arrested on Wednesday night from the madrasa as he shared a distorted photo of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his Facebook account." Also read: Madrasa teacher held for posting PM’s ‘distorted’ photo on Facebook "A case has been filed against him under the DSA in this connection," he added.
Facebook said Tuesday it has removed hundreds of fake accounts linked to an Iranian exile group and a troll farm in Albania. The accounts posted content critical of Iran’s government and supportive of Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, a dissident group known as MEK. In many cases, the Facebook and Instagram accounts used fake profile names and photos. 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 says it removes such accounts based on how they behave, not on the material they post. Read: Facebook data on more than 500M accounts found online For one, researchers found that the activity seemed to follow the central European workday, with posts picking up after 9 a.m., 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 Tuesday. The National Council for Resistance in Iran, an umbrella group that includes MEK, said in a statement that 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 a leading group opposing the Iranian government. It killed Americans before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and was labeled as a terrorist organization by the State Department until 2012. Nevertheless, U.S. politicians from both parties including Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich have given paid speeches to MEK in the past. The network of fake accounts was most active in 2017 and again in late 2020, Facebook said. In all, more than 300 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and Instagram were removed as part of the company’s action. Around 112,000 people followed one or more of the Instagram accounts. In some cases, the fake accounts used photos of Iranian celebrities or deceased dissidents. A small number of the more recent Instagram accounts appear to have used profile pictures that were computer generated.