Facebook flushes out fake Chinese accounts

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Image Credit: DCnepal Nepali Portal, September 1, 2020.

A news report by BBC has mentioned that more than 150 China-based fake accounts, which primarily focused on propping Beijing’s position within the South China Sea and highlighting its geopolitical interests in the region, were shut down by Facebook. Researchers at a social network analytics firm called Graphika, employed by Facebook made a note on the AI generated profile pictures driving these pages becoming “increasingly prevalent in information operations around the world.”

A report issued by Facebook on Tuesday mentioned that there were two separate networks that originated from China and the Philippines. The network based in China apparently had more than 130,000 followers. Having ascertained that the profiles were fake, 155 accounts, 11 pages, 9 groups and 6 Instagram accounts were removed due to the violation of  Facebook’s “policy against foreign or government interference”.

Most of these accounts were also found to be active in posting content in support for the Filipino politician Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter’s possible presidential bid in 2022. An article in the Diplomat suggests that this may be because of Duterte’s relatively more amicable stance on China than the historical pro-American policies usually adopted by the country. Some pages that were devoted towards covering the US presidential run either supporting Trump or Biden, in comparison, gained little notice.

While these pages remained unsuccessful in garnering wide numbers of followers, the situation represents the current crisis of the rapid spread of misinformation through social media platforms. In a separate study released early this month, Facebook had claimed that it had shut down more than 100 networks worldwide engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB)” before major democratic elections since 2017. The report stated that it expected similar attempts to pop up in the future as well, and commented that it would remain exceedingly vigilant regarding the matter.

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