Meta shuts down thousands of fraudulent Chinese accounts

Meta reports that it recently eliminated a network comprised of thousands of deceptive and illegitimate accounts originating from China. Under the guise of Americans, the users attempted to disseminate divisive material concerning US politics and relations with China.

The network also disseminated content pertaining to abortion, culture war matters, and assistance to Ukraine.

Although Meta did not establish a connection between the profiles and Beijing officials, it has observed a rise in networks originating from China in anticipation of the 2024 United States presidential elections.

The corporation claims that China is currently the third-largest geographical source of such networks, following Russia and Iran.

The quarterly threat report published on Thursday by the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp detailed the recent takedowns.

The network, which was headquartered in China, comprised over 4,700 accounts and utilised profile images and names that were duplicated from users across the globe. A portion of the content that the accounts liked and shared appeared to have been copied and pasted from X, which was formerly Twitter.

In certain instances, the accounts replicated exact statements made by Republican and Democratic politicians in the United States, such as Jim Jordan, Reps. Matt Gaetz and Nancy Pelosi, Gretchen Whitmer, Ron DeSantis, and Matt Gaetz. The network exhibited a lack of ideological coherence.

Meta has obtained examples wherein a China-based account on the network reposted the content of a tweet authored by Democratic Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia earlier this year. In her critique of the abortion legislation in Texas, she stated, "Remember that abortion is healthcare."

However, another network account replicated and forwarded a tweet authored by Republican Representative Ronny Jackson, which stated unequivocally that travel for abortions should never be funded with taxpayer dollars.

Meta defines "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" as prohibited by the company's moderation policies: posts by groups of accounts that collaborate and mislead other users with fraudulent identities.

Frequently, the content disseminated by these networks is factually accurate and cites news stories from prominent media organisations. However, rather than serving as a platform for legitimate discourse or commentary, these posts are intended to manipulate public sentiment, sow discord, and exaggerate the popularity of specific points of view.

Meta reported that the expansive Chinese network was halted prior to its deployment among actual users.

According to Ben Nimmo, who oversees inquiries into fraudulent activities on the organization's platforms, these networks continue to have difficulty attracting viewers, but they serve as a cautionary tale.

Foreign threat actors are endeavouring to establish communication with individuals via the internet prior to the upcoming elections of the following year; therefore, we must maintain a state of vigilance.

Additionally, the organisation reported uncovering two smaller networks: one originating from China and centering on India and Tibet; the other from Russia and predominantly publishing in English content pertaining to the invasion of Ukraine while endorsing Telegram channels.

According to Meta, the US government ceased providing the company with information regarding foreign influence networks in July, following a federal ruling that occurred as part of a First Amendment lawsuit currently being reviewed by the Supreme Court.

A broader controversy surrounds whether the United States government collaborates with technology companies to restrict social media users' freedom of expression.