Facebook removes fake accounts spreading Chinese propaganda

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook Inc said it detected and removed a small scale network of fake accounts aimed at distributing Chinese propaganda and disinformation across Southeast Asia and the US.

Disguised as local operators, the accounts sought to amplify pro-China messaging over its control of the South China Sea and surrounding area, while promoting political leaders deemed to be sympathetic to China’s influence in the region, according to Graphika Inc, which seeks to uncover disinformation operations and released a report on the China-based activity.

Facebook said the fake accounts also pushed messages for and against US President Donald Trump, his Democratic opponent Joe Biden and former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg.

Although researchers could not attribute the operation to the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party, the propaganda campaign was the second squashed by Facebook in a month over fake content related to the November election. Weeks ago, Facebook removed a small network of accounts linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the Kremlin-linked troll farm that used social media accounts to deepen divisions in the US and help Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The China-based operation appeared likely to be leveraging the US election to build its own audience rather than attempting to influence voters to tip the outcome, said Ben Nimmo, who leads investigations at Graphika.


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