Two of the largest social medial platforms both released reports this week they removed thousands of accounts linked to Chinese state-backed propaganda campaigns.
On Wednesday, Meta, the newly named parent company of Facebook and Instagram, issued a threat report claiming to have taken down 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four Groups and 86 Instagram accounts linked to China.
We began looking into this activity after reviewing public reporting about the single fake account at the center of this operation, “Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Facebook, wrote in a blog post announcing the report. “Our investigation found links to individuals in mainland China, including employees of Sichuan Silence Information companies located around the world.”
Company officials began investigating the network after they were alerted to an account posting as Swiss biologist named “Wilson Edwards,” who does not exist, saying that U.S. officials were intimidating World Health Organizations to attribute COVID-19.
Ben Nimmo, a Meta threat intelligence lead, wrote in the report, “This campaign was a hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting a single fake persona.”
In a blog post on Thursday, Twitter announced that it removed thousands of accounts spreading state propaganda, the majority of which were linked to a Chinese campaign aimed at downplaying the Chinese government’s role in the treatment of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjian.
Twitter’s safety team wrote, “We removed a network of accounts that amplified Chines Communist Party related to the treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.”
Twitter also released a data set containing information on 2,048 accounts to be studied by outside researchers.
The Standford Internet Observatory, a research center that worked with Twitter to analyze the accounts, wrote in a report on the matter, “Narratives included that Uyghurs are treated well in Xinjiang, that Xinjiang policy is necessary to combat terrorism, and that Western media and politicians are lying or hypocritical about human rights abuses in China.