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Meta Takes Down Thousands of Accounts in Alleged China-Based Influence Operation

Social media giant Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has removed approximately 4,800 fake accounts as part of an influence campaign believed to be from China. The campaign was aimed at spreading divisive content about U.S. politics in anticipation of the 2024 presidential election.

Meta unveiled this information in its latest threat adversarial report released on Thursday, revealing that it had detected two China-based campaigns in Q3 2023.

Credit: DepositPhotos

According to Meta, the individuals behind the operation posted about U.S. politics and the U.S.-China relationship in English. These accounts had a tendency to criticize both sides of the political spectrum, often using copy-pasted content from various sources.

The social media giant found that these accounts drew from both liberal and conservative sources, frequently resharing original posts from politicians and news outlets under false identities.

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Meta expressed uncertainty regarding the purpose of this approach, questioning whether it was designed to amplify partisan tensions, expand audiences among the supporters of these politicians, or simply make the fake accounts appear more authentic.

It is worth noting that Meta did not attribute this network to the Chinese government or any specific individual or group in China.

The tech company stated that it had disrupted a total of five influence campaigns from China this year, a higher number compared to any other country. In addition, Meta shut down another network based in Russia during Q3, which disseminated content related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and operated fictitious “media” brands.

Credit: DepositPhotos

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Meta’s report raises concerns about the potential for tech platforms like Facebook and X to be exploited for the purpose of creating divisions and discord leading up to the 2024 presidential elections.

Given the highly polarized electorate, it is anticipated that the 2024 contest between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump could resemble the 2020 election.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security previously warned about foreign adversaries leveraging new technologies, including artificial intelligence, to undermine trust in government institutions, social cohesion, and democratic processes.

Reports from the U.S. Senate and special counsel investigations have already established that Russia used social media platforms to sow division during the 2016 presidential election.

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