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Meta Closes Thousands of Accounts Tied to Chinese Covert Influence Campaign

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced that it has shut down thousands of accounts tied to a massive covert influence campaign linked to China. According to Meta’s Adversarial Threat Report for the second quarter of 2023, the digital influence campaign spanned across more than 50 online platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, and Reddit.

The operation, described as the “largest known cross-platform covert influence operation in the world,” involved individuals associated with Chinese law enforcement. The campaign aimed to spread positive commentary about China and its province Xinjiang, while criticizing the United States, Western foreign policies, and voices critical of the Chinese government, including journalists and researchers.

To combat this campaign, Meta removed 7,704 Facebook accounts, 954 Facebook pages, and 15 Instagram accounts. Despite its wide-reaching aspirations, Meta found no evidence of substantial engagement from genuine users. Instead, the Chinese network likely relied on fake content engagement farms in Bangladesh, Brazil, and Vietnam.

In addition to the Chinese influence operation, Meta also uncovered a significant cross-platform Russian influence campaign with a focus on the United States. Known as Doppelganger, this operation has been deemed the largest and most persistent covert influence operation from Russia since 2017. While Germany, France, and Ukraine had been the primary targets, Doppelganger has expanded its focus to include the United States and Israel. This operation impersonated major news outlets like Fox News and The Washington Post to publish critical articles and then shared them across social media platforms.

Overall, Meta’s efforts to identify and address these foreign influence campaigns underscore the ongoing challenges of combating disinformation and covert operations in the digital age.

Unique Perspective:

This recent revelation by Meta highlights the continued threat posed by foreign governments and entities using covert influence campaigns to shape public opinion and sow discord. As social media platforms become increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, it is crucial for companies like Meta to remain vigilant in detecting and taking action against such operations. The battle against disinformation requires ongoing collaboration between technology companies, governments, and the public to safeguard the integrity of online spaces and promote informed decision-making.

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