Meta Deletes Over 7.7K Accounts Linked to PRC Influence Campaign

    Meta Deletes Over 7.7K Accounts Linked to PRC Influence Campaign
    Last updated Aug 29, 2023
    Image credit: Unsplash


    • Facebook's parent company Meta announced Tuesday that it had removed 7,704 Facebook accounts, 954 Facebook pages, 15 Facebook groups, and 15 Instagram accounts linked to a Chinese influence campaign targeting the US, Taiwan, the UK, and other countries.
    • The operation, which initially focused on discrediting the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong before shifting to COVID-related material, was first discovered in 2019. The company has since repeatedly spotted and removed recurring spam accounts.
    • According to Meta, the accounts tried to spread pro-China messages, including "positive commentary about...its province Xinjiang and criticisms of the United States, Western foreign policies, and critics of the Chinese government including journalists and researchers."
    • Other influence headlines included "U.S. bombing of Nord Stream is the first step in the 'European destruction plan," which were spread via what was characterized as an "inauthentic following [that] likely came from fake engagement farms."
    • The alleged influence campaign, dubbed "Spamouflage" and garnered an estimated 560K Facebook followers, is the seventh of its kind to be taken down by Meta in the last six years. However, similar accounts are still running on other apps, such as TikTok, X, LiveJournal, and Blogspot.
    • While the company said "Spamouflage consistently struggled to reach beyond its own (fake) echo chamber," Meta reiterated that the "operation is large, prolific and persistent."


    Pro-establishment narrative

    This is a big win for America in the fight against foreign authoritarian propaganda campaigns. Countries like China and Russia are increasingly using Western-based social media platforms to insert upbeat messages about their own governments while sowing doubt about the democratic institutions of the West. This will be an indefinite fight against Beijing and Moscow, which means platforms like Meta must continuously improve their propaganda detection and removal mechanisms.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    The US government has used certain atrocities committed by Beijing to blur the lines between being against war with China and in favor of its social policies. Just as McCarthyites did to anti-nuclear war activists during the Cold War, today, the media and government are working in tandem to paint anyone who wishes to avoid a world war as China apologist. The propaganda is just as strong in the West, and arguably even worse since its goal is to prop up a rampant military-industrial complex. So any panic over "influence campaigns" must be taken with a grain of salt.

    Nerd narrative

    There is a 20% chance there will be a US-China war before 2035, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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