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Thousands of fake China-based accounts taken down by Meta included those targeting Tibet

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec04’23) – Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, said Nov 30 that it had taken down thousands of fake accounts from several networks that were part of a China-based influence campaign to spread polarising political content ahead of the 2024 US presidential elections. Some of these accounts also targeted India and Tibet.

The company said it had discovered two smaller networks, one based in China and focusing on India and Tibet, and one based in Russia which posted primarily in English about the invasion of Ukraine and promoted Telegram channels, noted the bbc.com Dec 1.

Some of the accounts were seen to have abruptly replaced their American-sounding usernames and profile pictures with new ones suggesting they lived in India. The accounts then began spreading pro-Chinese content about Tibet – including those denouncing the Dalai Lama – and India, reflecting how fake networks can be redirected to focus on new targets.

Meta Platforms has not publicly linked the Chinese networks to the Chinese government, but it has determined that the network originated in that country, noted the AP Dec 1. The content spread by the accounts was said to broadly complement other Chinese government propaganda and disinformation.

Speaking to the AP, Ben Nimmo, who leads investigations into inauthentic behaviour on Meta’s platforms, has said his team attributed some influence campaigns to tech firms in China and one to Chinese law enforcement. “If you look at the China-origin influence operations that we’ve taken down and disclosed over the last year and a half, they’re coming from multiple different actors”.

Meta has outlined the takedowns in a quarterly threat report it released on Nov 30. The tech giant said it took down the network before it gained traction from real people on Meta’s apps.

Many of the Facebook accounts had almost identical accounts on X and these accounts still exist, noted the NBC News.

With regard to the postings on the US, Meta has warned that “foreign threat actors are attempting to reach audiences” before the 2024 US presidential election.

The accounts were stated to have sported fake photos, names and locations with the aim to appear as everyday American Facebook users’ accounts expressing their opinion on political issues.

Often the content shared by such networks is not false; rather and references accurate news stories from major media outlets. But instead of being used for legitimate comment or debate, the posts are meant to manipulate public opinion, push division and make particular viewpoints seem more popular than they really are, noted the bbc.com report.

The accounts shared and liked each other’s posts, and some of the content appeared to be taken directly from X, formerly Twitter, the report said.

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