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

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On August 6, 2020, Facebook suspended 28 Pages, 15 Groups, 69 Facebook accounts, and ten Instagram accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior. As it notes in its takedown report, Facebook attributed this network to individuals in Yemen. Facebook shared a portion of this network with the Stanford Internet Observatory on July 28. In our investigation, we find that this was a small operation that targeted Yemenis and shared narratives critical of the Houthis. In total, the Pages we analyzed posted only 1,489 times. A notable tactic of the network was the use of apolitical engagement contests. Across Pages, Groups, and a linked channel on the Telegram messaging app, the network posted contests with cash prizes; eligibility depended on liking Pages or joining Groups or the Telegram channel. Of the limited engagement the Pages received, an overwhelming majority stemmed from these contests. The takedown also included a number of pro-Turkey Pages and a pro-Turkey Group.

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