By Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy

Today, we removed multiple accounts and Pages for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior in Myanmar on Facebook and Instagram.

We’re constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people. We’re removing these Pages, Groups and accounts based on their behavior, not the content they posted. Over the past year, we’ve taken down three other networks in Myanmar for engaging in this sort of behavior.

We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge. We’re committed to continually improving to stay ahead. That means building better technology, hiring more people and working more closely with security experts and other companies.

What We’ve Found So Far

Today, we removed 89 Facebook accounts, 107 Facebook Pages, 15 Facebook Groups, and five Instagram accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Myanmar. The people behind this activity used fake accounts — some of which had already been disabled by our automated systems — to promote their content, increase engagement, and manage Groups and Pages. They frequently repurposed legitimate news and entertainment content and posted about national and local topics, including crime, ethnic relations, celebrities, and the military. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that some of this activity was linked to individuals associated with the Myanmar military.

  • Presence on Facebook and Instagram: 89 Facebook accounts, 107 Pages, 15 Groups, and 5 accounts on Instagram.
  • Followers: About 900,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 67,000 accounts joined at least one of these Groups, and around 400 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
  • Advertising: Less than $1,200 spent on Facebook and Instagram ads paid for in US dollars and Russian rubles.

We identified these accounts through our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region.

Below is a sample of the content posted by some of these Pages.

Page Name: Myanmar Media Watch
Translation: The hottest pictures of recently famous actress Shwe Mone Yati
Currently, Shwe Mone has a beautiful and romantic life. Her social media features how her caring boyfriend loves her. Just recently, Shwe Htoo gave her a hat worth 8 lakhs as their anniversary gift and told how much he loves her. Despite the criticism, she shared through her social media how much they love each other and are happy together.
Today, Shwe Mone Yati posted hot pictures on her social media account. The fans are also surprised as they had never seen her in such style. Under those pictures, you will find her lover, Shwe Htoo’s comments on how amazing she looks and Shwe Mone Yati replied she is amazing because she is Shwe Htoo’s girlfriend.

Page Name: Myanmar Muslim News
Translation: At least 65 killed in Taliban attack on Afghan intelligence base
At least 65 people were killed in a Taliban-claimed attack on an Afghan intelligence base, Afghan authorities said on Tuesday, Jan. 22. This attack happened on Monday and the announcement about at least 65 people killed was made today, raising the toll substantially from 12 announced previously. “We took about 65 bodies out of the rubble yesterday,” Mohammad Sardar Bakhyari, deputy head of the Wardak provincial council said. Afghanistan security has become questionable as Talibans put explosive weapons on pickup cars and invade the station and attacked. Moreover, another car came in and shot everyone in sight during the attack. Just after a day after an Afghan security officer stated that the number of death can increase up to over 70, Bakhyari made the announcement. The attack was on a training facility for the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence agency, meaning that any toll will likely be difficult to confirm independently, AFP mentioned. The attackers were killed immediately, Bakhyari said, but most of the casualties were caused by a building collapse. The Taliban, who have been waging a 17-year war against the Western-backed Afghan government, later claimed responsibility for the assault.

Page Name: News Zone
Translation: It was a premeditated mass murder, and not a boat accident
“We were attacked from three sides and all we could do was back up into the water.” Sixteen people died and 39 people went missing from the boat accident on July 23, which happened during a territory dispute between two villages in Yenangyaung Township.

Page Name: Ethnic Regional News
Translation: A driver miraculously survives tree fall
On the morning of August 7 at 9AM, there was a case where an old tree on the University Avenue Road near Myawadi Petrol Road fell on top of moving car. Because of this accident, the driver was trapped in the car for 10 minutes and he was later saved by police. Although he said he wasn’t injured, his car was totally damaged from the accident.

Page Name: Collection of Ta’ang Land News
Translation: If you are a true Buddhist, please do not skip and say “Hi” here. I am proud and admire you, little daughter, as your skill is incredible regardless of your age.

Our security team’s ongoing investigations are just one part of the work we’re doing to help keep our community in Myanmar safe. We also continue to work on tackling hate speech and misinformation, building better tools and technology, deepening our partnerships and programs, and preparing for the 2020 General Election.