Facebook announced the removal of two separate networks that used fake identities to promote government propaganda.
The first network was in China. While it targeted the US, its main focus was on the Philippines and countries in Southeast Asia. This is the second time Facebook has removed the pages associated with this campaign, the company said, and this time users used a VPN to try to hide their identities.
“Although people behind this activity tried to hide their identity and coordination, our research found links to people in Fujian Province, China,” Facebook said in a statement announcing the shutdown.
The propaganda operation consisted of Pages and Instagram accounts, but its main focus was on executing fake identities on Facebook that were used to reinforce content. People who have profiles “posed as locals,” the press release said.
The network targeted the US, but that wasn’t its main focus. Reports of Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, and President Donald Trump, both in support and opposition.
The fake accounts were also used to “like and comment on other people’s posts, particularly about maritime activity in the South China Sea, including US Navy ships”.
The navy’s activities were also at the heart of the network, which was aimed at people in Southeast Asia, as well as agencies that supported Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
In total, the network affected around 194,000 people and spent $ 60 on Chinese yuan ads. Six Instagram accounts, nine groups, and 115 Facebook accounts have been removed.
The second network removed from Facebook originated in the Philippines. It consisted of 31 pages, 57 Facebook accounts and 20 Instagram accounts.
Facebook investigated the propaganda network after it was brought to the attention of Rappler, an independent news organization in the country Duterte was targeting. The Propaganda Network supported the Philippine President and published articles on various political issues, accelerating its activities between 2019 and 2020.
“Although the people behind this activity tried to hide their identities, our investigation found links to the Philippine military and police,” the Facebook announcement said.
These companies spent $ 1,100 on advertising on the platform.