Meta Shut China operation aimed at influencing US intermediate terms

  • Meta took down a China-based network that was trying to influence US midterms.
  • It was the first Chinese Meta network to be shut down, which targeted US domestic politics ahead of the midterm elections.
  • The propaganda operation was largely ineffective as it was mostly launched while Americans were sleeping.

Meta said on Tuesday it had taken down a China-based disinformation network that was trying to influence the US midterm elections, although it was largely ineffective because of the time difference between the two countries and the normal working hours of propaganda workers. .

The network, which Meta described as “small,” originated in China and ran multiple social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, according to a Tuesday blog post by Ben Nimmo, the agency’s head of global threat intelligence. Meta and David Agranovich, director of the company. stopping the threat.

Meta did not have enough evidence to determine who was behind the China-based business, Reuters reported, citing a company official at a news conference on Tuesday.

The network used tactics including fake accounts and political hashtags, Meta said in its report. Specifically, two groups within the network “targeted both sides of the political spectrum in the US” in the English language.

Meta pointed to two memes featuring President Joe Biden and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio as examples of what the network spread. The meme with a photo of Biden included the words “One year: Nothing built, nothing comes back, nothing is better.” The other meme showed a photo of Rubio and the words “$1.3 million from Russia, $3.3 million from NRA, Democracy for sale.”

However, the influencer operation failed, as the US-centric clusters attracted only “minimal reactions” to their posts.

This was partly because the propaganda workers worked regular nine-to-five shifts in China on weekdays and got big lunches, Meta wrote. “It appears they had a significant lunch break and a much lower level of posting on weekends. This meant the business was mostly posting when Americans were sleeping,” according to Meta.

Some of the accounts posting the propaganda messages posted very sporadically and used poor English. Some accounts shared the same post to a few groups one day, but then didn’t post for a week. “What they posted included language errors: ‘I can’t live in a regressive America!’ per Meta.

Although the China-based influencer operation did not work, it is significant because it is the first Chinese Meta network to be “disrupted” to target US domestic politics ahead of midterm elections, the tech company said. “The Chinese influence operations we have disrupted in the past have typically focused on criticism of the United States to international audiences, rather than primarily targeting domestic audiences in the US,” according to Meta.

Meta also took down a Russian disinformation network targeting Europe, it said in the same post on Tuesday. This network impersonated over 60 websites of real European news organizations and published original articles supporting Russia in its war with Ukraine.

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