The first known China-based influence operation that targeted American users with political content before the midterm elections in November has been thwarted, according to Meta Platforms.
In a report summarizing its findings, Meta stated that while the network was small and did not garner much of a following, it maintained fake accounts across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and competitor service, Instagram.
However, compared to earlier known Chinese propaganda efforts, the discovery indicated a shift toward more direct interference in U.S. domestic politics, the report stated.
“The Chinese operations we’ve taken down before talked primarily about America to the world, primarily in South Asia, not to Americans about themselves,” Meta global threat intelligence lead Ben Nimmo told a press briefing.
“Essentially the message was ‘America bad, China good,'” he said of those operations, while the new operation pushed messages aimed at Americans on both sides of divisive issues like abortion and gun rights.
At the briefing, a different Meta executive stated that the company lacked sufficient proof to identify the Chinese suspects.
Since November 2021, the fake accounts have posted memes and lurked in the comments of posts by famous people while pretending to be liberal and conservative Americans from various states.
One account used the hashtag #RubioChildrenKiller to comment on a Facebook post by Republican Senator Marco Rubio, asking him to stop gun violence.
According to the report, the same network also created fake accounts that pretended to be individuals in the Czech Republic and criticized the Czech government for its policy toward China.
Separately, the report claimed that Meta intercepted what it called a vast network of over 60 websites, social media accounts, and petitions on websites like Avaaz—the biggest and most sophisticated Russian-based operation since the start of the war in Ukraine.
(Adapted from LiveMint.com)