META said it has shut down close to 9,000 Facebook and Instagram accounts, groups and pages associated with a Chinese political spam network that had targeted users in Australia and other parts of the world.
This was disclosed in a report released by the social media company recently.
Meta said it had removed 7,704 Facebook accounts, 954 pages, 15 groups and 15 Instagram accounts identified as violating the company’s inauthentic behaviour policy.
In the course of its investigation, Meta uncovered the influence operation on more than 50 online platforms and forums including YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, Medium, Blogspot, Livejournal and X (formerly known as Twitter), in addition to Instagram and Facebook.
The Guardian reported that following questions about several accounts uncovered by the company, TikTok also removed 284 accounts associated with a Chinese disinformation campaign.
The network also attempted to spread negative commentary about the U.S. and disinformation in multiple languages about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This network originated in China and targeted many regions around the world, including Taiwan, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan and global Chinese-speaking audiences,” Meta said.
Meta started looking for signs of a Chinese influence operation on its own platforms after reports in 2022 highlighted how a disinformation campaign linked to the Chinese government targeted a human rights non-governmental organization.
Its researchers were able to link this latest disinformation network to a prior influence campaign in 2019, code named Spamouflage.
Meta also detected and thwarted additional activities, subsequently releasing an in-depth analysis of a Russian disinformation effort it pinpointed shortly after the commencement of the 2022 conflict in Ukraine.
These steps precede what is expected to be a contentious election period.
Previous apprehensions about the impact of influence campaigns on past elections prompted social media platforms, including Meta, to implement more rigorous regulations concerning the type of political content permissible and the accompanying labels attached to such content.
Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via firstname.lastname@example.org and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.