HomeTechnologyGadgetsMeta says removes China-based propaganda operation targeting U.S. midterms

Meta says removes China-based propaganda operation targeting U.S. midterms

Woman holds smartphone with Meta logo in front of a displayed Facebook’s new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration photo taken Oct. 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

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September 27 (Reuters) – Metaplatforms (META.O) said Tuesday it disrupted the first known China-based influence operation aimed at targeting users in the United States with political content ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The network had fake accounts on Meta’s social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, as well as its competitor service Twitter, but was small and didn’t attract many followers, Meta said in a report summarizing its findings.

Still, the report noted that the discovery was significant because it suggested a shift toward more direct interference in US domestic politics compared to prior known Chinese propaganda efforts.

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“The Chinese operations we’ve taken down before talked mainly about America against the world, mainly in South Asia, not Americans about themselves,” Ben Nimmo, leader of Meta’s global threat intelligence agency, told a news conference.

“Essentially, the message was ‘America bad, China good,'” he said of those operations, as the new operation spread messages targeting Americans on both sides of divisive issues such as abortion and gun rights.

Another Meta executive at the briefing said the company didn’t have enough evidence to say who was behind the activity in China.

The fake accounts impersonated liberal and conservative Americans in several states, posting memes and lurking in the comments of public figures’ posts since November 2021, according to the report.

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A sample screenshot showed an account commenting on a Facebook post by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, asking him to end gun violence and using the hashtag #RubioChildrenKiller.

The same network also set up fake accounts masquerading as people in the Czech Republic criticizing the Czech government for its approach to China, according to the report.

Separately, the report said Meta intercepted the largest and most complex Russian operation since the start of the war in Ukraine, describing it as a sprawling network of more than 60 websites, social media accounts and petitions on sites such as Avaaz.

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Reporting by Katie Paul; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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