Facebook parent company Meta announced on Thursday that it had taken down 52 networks engaged with “inauthentic behavior” in 2021.
Meta published a report on “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” a term it defined as “coordinated efforts to manipulate or corrupt public debate for a strategic goal, while relying centrally on fake accounts to mislead people about who’s behind them.”
In the report, Meta said that in 2021, it took down 52 networks engaged in the practice, operating out of 34 different countries. The company pointed out that more networks — 11 of them — were detected in Mexico than in any other country.
Of the 52 campaigns disrupted worldwide, Facebook said 64% had domestic targets, 15% targeted a mix of audiences both at home and abroad and 21% had foreign targets.
Meta introduced the term “coordinated inauthentic behavior” in 2017, amid concerns about digital efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election, most prominently by Russian government-linked actors.
In a briefing, Facebook security executive David Agranovich attributed the shift to a mix of factors, including, he said, that the company’s investigators had gotten better at finding deceptive tactics.
“I would imagine we are seeing more of the ecosystem than most of the company’s investigators were seeing back in 2017,” he said.
Agranovich pointed to an “increase in amateur players in the space,” with more home-grown networks adopting the sophisticated tactics previously used by elite groups trying to project influence abroad.
“It’s a combination of investigators getting better at finding bad things. It’s also an increasing adoption of some of these tactics as they become more widely known by less sophisticated bad actors and by domestic actors who might see some value in using some of these deceptive tactics,” he said.