Following the banning of 32 accounts in late July with suspected connections to Russia, Facebook removed an additional 652 accounts, groups and pages that it identified as exhibiting “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That behavior included the sharing of political material.
The banned accounts were linked not only to Russia, but what was a surprise, also to Iran.
The 32 accounts banned in July were generally engaged in efforts to influence the up and coming November mid-term elections. The 632 additional fake accounts were focused more on influencing US foreign policy, and regional politics in the Middle East.
Facebook is not the only internet site where foreign entities go to influence the US voting public. Twitter suspended 284 accounts for “coordinated manipulation,” with many of those accounts sourced to Iran. Microsoft announced they saw a new Russian practice to copy conservative US websites, perhaps as a component of a spy campaign.
“There’s a lot we don’t know yet,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
“You’re going to see people try to abuse the services in every way possible … including now nation states,” he said. He described the deception campaigns as “sophisticated and well-funded efforts that aren’t going to stop.”
The effect of the US pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement will not only reverberate in Iran. US companies will also feel the bite of newly imposed economic sanctions on the regime of Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader.
The US withdrawal from the agreement will force the US government to revoke existing licenses allowing for US companies to do business with Iran. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Tuesday that licenses held by Boeing Company and Airbus Group, Boeing’s European competitor, will be nullified by the US withdrawal from the agreement.
“The existing licenses will be revoked,” Mnuchin said to reporters.
The company responded by saying it will consult with the government on what their next move should be.
“As we have throughout this process, we’ll continue to follow the U.S. government’s lead,” Boeing commented.
Airbus is also dependent on licensing from the US to sell its airplanes to Iran due to the US-made parts Airbus uses in its aircraft.
There will be waivers and exemptions made under certain conditions for certain products and countries, but those conditions were not discussed by Mnuchin.
Mnuchin added that the new sanctions will also seriously limit the sale of oil by Iran, which sells about 5 percent of the world’s oil, making it the fifth largest oil producer in the world. He said that there will be a 6-month grace period to allow countries to finish up existing contracts and implement “significant reductions” in the amount of crude oil they purchase from Iran.
The secretary said he does not believe the price of oil will rise by much since he expects other countries will respond to the new sanctions with increased oil production.
Mnuchin said that the goal of the new sanctions is to force Iran to come to the table to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal.
Despite the fact that the United States led the negotiations with Iran to sign an agreement to limit nuclear weapons proliferation, US companies will not benefit economically from that agreement. Companies based in other countries, such as in Europe, Russia and China, will however be able to gain financially from the accord.
This is due to the fact that much of the sanctions placed on Iran from the United States are decades old, ever since relations between the two countries have been strained. The US has imposed an embargo on Iran since 1995, aimed at checking the development of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, Iran’s support for terrorism around the world, and human rights abuses.
During the recent negotiations between the Obama administration and Iran the US stuck to its position of only lifting sanctions connected to nuclear proliferation, despite Iran insisting that the US lift all sanctions immediately. In the end, though, due to high pressure from Iran and others to sign the deal, the US backed down and agreed to end the arms embargo after five years and the missile embargo after eight years. The remaining US sanctions will stand.
In addition, the nuclear-related sanctions that the US will end are on foreign, and not US companies. The sanctions prohibit non-US companies from investing in the oil sector of Iran, trading in oil, and financing those transactions. Doing business with Iranian banks and other companies connected to the sanctions will also be prohibited.
The bottom line is that US companies will still not be allowed to do business with Iran, even after the accords are signed, except in very limited situations.