All FSI News Blogs October 8, 2020

Analysis of an October 2020 Facebook Takedown Linked to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria

In this post and in the attached report we investigate an operation that called for the release from prison of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Nigeria Takedown twitter graphic

On October 6, 2020 Facebook announced the takedown of 47 Pages, 93 Groups, 79 profiles, and 48 Instagram accounts linked to the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). Facebook shared a portion of this network with the Stanford Internet Observatory on September 24, 2020. The operation called for the release from prison of Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, the leader of the IMN who has been imprisoned since 2015. IMN, based in Zaria in Kaduna state, advocates a revolution to install an Islamic form of government. It is heavily influenced by Iran. Though the network primarily originated in Nigeria, the accounts frequently linked out to Africa-specific websites with explicit links to Iranian state media. It attempted to be savvy to social engagement, appropriating hashtags and memes that trended for unrelated reasons in the U.S., such as #ZakzakyLifeMatters. This network was suspended not due to the content of its posts, but rather for coordinated inauthentic behavior. 

Freedom Zakzaky
A now-suspended Page called “Freedom Zakzaky”

Key takeaways:

  • Common themes in the network included calling for the Nigerian government to release Zakzaky, and posts critical of the Nigerian government. There was some anti-France and anti-US content, including a Page called “Say ‘No’ to American Intervention in Nigeria.” 

  • Five of the Pages had administrators located in Iran, though we note that Facebook says the operation primarily originated in Nigeria.

  • The network linked out to websites, including the now-down,, and The latter is explicitly linked to the Iranian state media outlet Press TV. 

  • The network primarily posted in Hausa and English, with some posts in Arabic and Persian.  

  • Most of the Pages we analyzed had fewer than 5,000 followers. The most popular Page, SR TV HAUSA, had 31,181 followers. 

  • There was substantial activity adjacent to this network that was on Telegram. 

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twitter takedown june 2020

Analysis of June 2020 Twitter takedowns linked to China, Russia and Turkey

On June 3, 2020 Twitter shared with the Stanford Internet Observatory three distinct takedown datasets from China, Turkey and Russia. In this post and in the attached white papers on the China and Turkey operations, we look at the topics and tactics of these operations.
graphic of facebook page on computer

Reporting for Duty

An investigation into a network of Pakistan-based Facebook and Instagram accounts suspended for coordinated inauthentic behavior reveals mass reporting to silence critics of Islam and Pakistan.
graphic illustration of facebook posts from yemen

The Ministry of Made-Up Pages: Yemen-Based Actors Impersonate Government Agencies to Spread Anti-Houthi Content

We analyzed a now-suspended network of Facebook Pages, Groups, and profiles linked to individuals in Yemen. We found accounts that impersonated government ministries in Saudi Arabia, posts that linked to anti-Houthi websites, and pro-Turkish Pages and Groups.