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Photo Illustration: Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said Wednesday it has blocked a group of hackers in China who have used the platform to target Uyghur activists, journalists and dissidents living abroad with links to surveillance malware.

Why it matters: The Chinese government is actively committing genocide against the Uyghurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group, inside the country, while harassing those who have left, according to Amnesty International.

  • Chinese authorities deny any rights abuses have been committed.

Context: Facebook said the "well-resourced" hacking groups, known as Earth Empusa or Evil Eye, targeted the devices of Uyghurs living abroad in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United States, Syria, Australia, Canada and other countries.

  • The social media company said they infected the devices with malware to enable surveillance by sharing links to malicious websites with the targets rather than directly sharing the malware itself on the platform.
  • The hackers impersonated journalists, students, human rights advocates or members of the Uighur community in order to gain the trust of their targets and deceive them into clicking the links.
  • Facebook said there were less than 500 targets and less than 100 accounts tied to the hacking groups, according to Reuters.

What they're saying: "This activity had the hallmarks of a well-resourced and persistent operation while obfuscating who’s behind it," Facebook said.

  • "To disrupt this operation, we blocked malicious domains from being shared on our platform, took down the group’s accounts and notified people who we believe were targeted by this threat actor."

Go deeper: "Clear evidence" China is committing genocide against Uyghurs, report finds

Go deeper

Updated 25 mins ago - Axios Twin Cities

Police: Officer who shot Daunte Wright accidentally pulled gun instead of taser

The officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, outside Minneapolis Sunday appeared to have inadvertently pulled out her gun instead of a taser, police said.

Driving the news: "This appears to me, from what I viewed in the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright," Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon told reporters Monday.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel to hold strategic Iran talks on Tuesday

Jake Sullivan. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty

Top national security officials from the U.S. and Israel will convene virtually on Tuesday for a second round of strategic talks on Iran, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The talks come two days after an explosion at an Iranian nuclear facility that experts consider a likely act of Israeli sabotage, and one day before the U.S. resumes indirect nuclear talks in Vienna over a return to the 2015 nuclear deal — a prospect that has raised anxiety levels in Jerusalem.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: The warning signs of a longer pandemic — CDC director: Answer to Michigan COVID-19 surge is "to close things down."
  2. Vaccines: Former FDA chief offers reality check on vaccine passports.
  3. Economy: Jobs growth could be curbed by demands for higher wages.
  4. World: Facebook to push notifications about vaccine eligibility to 20 countries outside of the U.S. — Brits flock to pubs for first time in months as U.K. lockdown eases.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.