Meta Unmasks A Disinformation Campaign Linked To Chinese Law Enforcement


In a recent report, Meta has revealed its success in shutting down a massive social media disinformation campaign tied to Chinese law enforcement. The campaign, orchestrated through a network of fake accounts, pages, and groups, aimed to shape public opinion and spread positive narratives about China. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, removed a total of 7,704 accounts, 954 pages, and 15 groups associated with this operation on its platform.

Key Takeaway

Meta uncovered a significant disinformation campaign linked to Chinese law enforcement, which aimed to shape public opinion and promote positive narratives about China. Despite its scale, the campaign had limited success in reaching authentic audiences and primarily influenced fake engagement within its own echo chamber.

The Largest Known Cross-Platform Covert Influence Operation

In its report, Meta described the campaign as “the largest known cross-platform covert influence operation in the world.” The disinformation network extended beyond Facebook and Instagram, encompassing 50 other platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, Medium, and various smaller sites.

The Nature of the Disinformation Campaign

The network primarily focused on promoting positive commentary about China and Xinjiang province, as well as criticizing the United States, Western foreign policies, and critics of the Chinese government, including journalists and researchers. The disinformation campaign targeted Chinese speakers outside of China, while also aiming its efforts towards audiences in Taiwan, the United States, Australia, the U.K., and Japan.

Interestingly, the campaign came across as relatively clumsy and struggled to gain significant traction. While it possessed a considerable number of accounts and platforms, its reach remained confined to its own fabricated echo chamber. Many comments on posts attributable to the campaign originated from other accounts linked to the same disinformation network, meant to create an illusion of popularity. Only a few instances were reported where real-world influencers amplified the content on Twitter and YouTube.

Linking the Campaign to Chinese Law Enforcement

Researchers were able to trace the campaign back to “Spamouflage,” a well-known China-based operation that has been active for several years. While Meta typically hesitates to directly attribute influence campaigns to specific governments, the company did not shy away from stating that this particular operation had clear ties to Chinese law enforcement.

Meta’s success in shutting down this extensive disinformation network highlights the ongoing battle against coordinated inauthentic behavior. It emphasizes the importance of actively identifying and addressing such attempts, even if their ability to reach genuine audiences remains limited.

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