Facebook wipes out Chinese, Filipino misinformation campaigns
Facebook has eradicated two separate networks that have covertly spread content concerning hot political topics and propaganda.
On Tuesday, Facebook Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher said in a blog post that the networks, one originating in China and the other in the Philippines, violated the firm’s coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) policies, which ban accounts, pages, and groups from “misleading others about who they are or what they are doing.”
“When we investigate and remove these operations, we focus on behavior rather than content, no matter who’s behind them, what they post, or whether they’re foreign or domestic,” Gleicher commented.
The first network was a Chinese operation involving at least 115 accounts, 11 pages, 9 groups, and 6 Instagram accounts.
Focusing primarily on the Philippines, the US, and the Southeast Asia region, members of the scheme posed as locals in targeted countries in order to spread information concerning the political situation surrounding Beijing and the South China Sea, Hong Kong, the current plight of overseas Filipino workers, and both praise and criticism of China.
Content both for and against US presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, and Donald Trump was also spread, commented on, and liked. An example of the content spread by the network is below:
To try and stay hidden, the network used VPNs and Facebook says this is not the first time the operation has been spotted — as pages belonging to the group have previously been removed for inauthentic behavior and spreading spam.
The network focused on organic and social movement, spending only $60 on advertising.
In addition, Facebook wiped out a second campaign connecting 57 Facebook accounts, 31 pages, and 20 Instagram accounts. Based in the Philippines, this network was taken down for violating “our policy against foreign or government interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity,” according to the tech giant.
Posts in both Filipino and English relating to local news and events were spread and commented on by members of the network, including content focused on politics, military activities, terrorism, and communism.
A news organization and civil society group alerted Facebook to these activities, and upon investigation, the company found “links to Philippine military and Philippine police” who had also paid roughly $1,100 for advertising purposes.
Facebook publishes regular CIB reports that can be accessed here.
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Back in April, Facebook began a site-wide crackdown on coronavirus-related fake news, treatment claims, and unfounded conspiracy theories including 5G links and mass vaccination plots.
The social media giant has now gone a step further when it comes to anti-vaxxers by removing related pages and content, as well as making it more difficult to find anti-vax groups. Adverts and fundraisers linked to anti-vaccination messages are now also being rejected.
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