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US top target for foreign influence operations

US top target for foreign influence operations on Facebook

The United States is the country most frequently targeted by deceptive foreign influence operations using Facebook 2017-2020, Facebook says in a report called Combating Influence Operations. The US was also second on a list of countries targeted by domestic influence operations in that same time period.

The company said that since 2017, its security teams have identified and removed over 150 covert influence operations for violating policy against Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB).

“These operations targeted public debate across both established and emerging social media platforms, as well as local blogs and major newspapers and magazines. They were foreign and domestic, run by governments, commercial entities, politicians, and conspiracy and fringe political groups.”


Facebook said one of the top sources of coordinated inauthentic behaviour networks targeting the US prior to the 2020 presidential election was domestic campaigns originating in the United States itself, as well as foreign operations from Russia and Iran.

Russia, followed by Iran were the most frequent sources of coordinated inauthentic behaviour. Top targets of foreign operations included Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Libya and Sudan.

About half of the influence operations it has removed globally since 2017 were conducted by domestic networks.


Facebook said the domestic influence operations that targeted the United States were operated by conspiratorial or fringe political actors, PR or consulting firms and media websites.

Myanmar was the country targeted by the most domestic inauthentic networks.

|The scaled techniques we saw in 2016 are now harder to pull off, more expensive, and less likely to succeed. As threat actors evade enforcement by co-opting witting and unwitting  people to blur the lines between authentic domestic discourse and manipulation, it will get harder to discern what is and isn’t part of a deceptive influence campaign. Going forward, as more domestic campaigns push the boundaries of enforcement across platforms, we should  expect policy calls to get harder.”


“While state-run operations will continue to persist, it’s important to remain open and flexible in our detection and response efforts because we know that not all IO is state-sponsored. More domestic, non-state, commercial actors are using the same tactics to influence public debate in their strategic interests. This will lead to more challenging attribution, with more layers of obfuscation between the operators and the ultimate benefactor.”


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