December 4, 2022

Meta Removes Chinese Effort to Influence U.S. Elections

The Russian operation involved 1,633 accounts on Facebook, 703 pages and one group, as well as 29 different accounts on Instagram, the company’s report said. About 4,000 accounts followed one or more of the Facebook pages. As Meta moved to block the operation’s domains, new websites appeared, “suggesting persistence and continuous investment in this activity.”

Meta began its investigation after disclosures in August by one of Germany’s television networks, ZDF. As in the case of the Chinese operation, it did not explicitly accuse the government of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, though the activity clearly mirrors the Kremlin’s extensive information war surrounding its invasion.

“They were kind of throwing everything at the wall, and not a lot of it was sticking,” said David Agranovich, Meta’s director of threat disruption. “It doesn’t mean that we can say mission accomplished here.”

In a statement, Twitter said it had been investigating the accounts identified by Meta “for some time” and had taken action against accounts that violated the company’s rules, though it did not elaborate.

Meta’s report noted overlap between the Russian and Chinese campaigns on “a number of occasions,” although the company said they were unconnected. The overlap reflects the growing cross-fertilization of official statements and state media reports in the two countries, especially regarding the United States.

The accounts associated with the Chinese campaign posted material from Russia’s state media, including those involving unfounded allegations that the United States had secretly developed biological weapons in Ukraine.

A French-language account linked to the operation posted a version of the allegation in April, 10 days after Russia’s Ministry of Defense originally posted it on Telegram. That one drew only one response, in French, from an authentic user, according to Meta.

“Fake,” the user wrote. “Fake. Fake as usual.”

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/27/technology/meta-chinese-influence-us-elections.html

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