Sep 27, 2022 - Technology

Meta disables two disinformation networks from China and Russia

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Facebook parent Meta announced on Tuesday that it had taken down two sprawling networks using fake social media accounts engaged in covert influence campaigns being run from China and Russia.

Why it matters: The Russian network was the "largest and most complex" of its kind that Meta has discovered since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the Chinese network was the first to target U.S. politics ahead of the midterms, according to a Meta press release.

The big picture: Meta said the two separate networks had violated the company's policy against Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB).

  • The Chinese network, while small, operated across several social media platforms — including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — and primarily targeted the U.S. and Czech Republic.
  • Posts targeting the Czech Republic focused on criticizing the government's "support of Ukraine, its impact on the Czech economy, and calling for the government to avoid antagonizing China," Meta noted in an accompanying CIB report.
  • In the U.S., the Chinese network targeted both Republicans and Democrats, with posts expressing support both for and against protecting gun rights and abortion access.
  • "This operation failed to gain following or engagement from authentic communities," the report stated.

The larger Russian-originated network primarily targeted Germany, France, Italy, Ukraine and the U.K., focusing on Russia's war in Ukraine.

  • The network was comprised of more than 60 websites masquerading as legitimate European news platforms, such the Guardian, Der Spiegel and Bild.
  • Across more than 1,600 Facebook and Instagram accounts, the network promoted stories that echoed Kremlin propaganda, criticizing western sanctions on Russia as well as Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees.
  • Meta began investigating the matter following reporting by investigative journalists in Germany.
  • "This is the largest and most complex Russian-origin operation that we’ve disrupted since the beginning of the war in Ukraine," the report stated.
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