Meta Removes China-Based Propaganda Operation Targeting Midterms

Photo credit: Reuters

Meta Platforms — the umbrella company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and the Metaverse — announced that it disrupted the first known China-based influence operation focused on targeting users in the United States with political content ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.

The network maintained fake accounts across the massive social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, as well as competitor service Twitter. 

However, the propaganda operation was reportedly small and did not attract much of a following, Meta said in a summarization of its findings.

But the discovery was significant because it suggested a shift toward more direct interference in American domestic politics compared with previous known Chinese propaganda efforts.

The Chinese fake accounts posed as liberal and conservative Americans in different states, posting political memes and lurking in the comments of public figures’ posts since November 2021.

Meta global threat intelligence lead Ben Nimmo told a press briefing that the Chinese operations that were taken down before talked primarily about America to the world, primarily in South Asia, not to Americans about themselves. 

“Essentially the message was ‘America bad, China good,'” Nimmo said of those operations, while the new operation pushed messages aimed at Americans on both sides of divisive issues like abortion and gun rights.

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said his office was “very concerned” about intelligence reports of election interference by foreign governments “starting back some time ago and continuing all the way into the present.”

The same network did not stop at setting up accounts of Americans and also set up fake accounts posing as people in the Czech Republic criticizing the Czech government over its approach to China. 

Meta said that it also intercepted the most complex and the largest yet Russian-based operation since its war in Ukraine began. It was described as a sprawling network of more than 60 websites, and about 4,000 social media accounts. The sites impersonated legitimate news organizations. 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.