Meta spots largest influence network to date
source: axios.com | image: pixabay.com
Meta said it’s taken down what it believes is the biggest online influence operation of all time.
Why it matters: The wide-reaching, pro-Chinese operation targeted social media users in Taiwan, alongside users in a handful of the island’s allies like the U.S., the U.K. and Japan, as anxieties over a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan grow.
Details: Meta estimated in its second-quarter threat report, released today, that the China-linked campaign involved 7,704 accounts, 954 pages, 15 groups on Facebook and 15 accounts on Instagram.
- Researchers uncovered evidence of the campaign on more than 50 online platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest and X, formerly known as Twitter.
- The campaign mostly spread pro-China messages, amplified criticisms of U.S. and other Western policies, and targeted journalists, human rights activists and other critics of the Chinese government.
What they’re saying: “This is one of the single-biggest takedowns of coordinated inauthentic behavior that we’ve ever run into,” Ben Nimmo, global threat intelligence lead at Meta, told reporters.
Yes, but: Campaign operators struggled to garner significant, authentic engagement or reach, much like most recent pro-Chinese influence campaigns.
Catch up quick: Meta believes the latest campaign is an extension of an ongoing effort known as “Spamouflage” that emerged in 2019.
The intrigue: Campaign operators started their scheme by posting content directly to Facebook and Instagram, but automated systems were quick to detect the posts, according to the report.
- This prompted campaign operators to start posting on smaller platforms and later amplify those posts on Meta’s social media sites.
What’s next: Meta researchers expect the threat actors behind the campaign to rebuild and keep trying, despite consistently struggling to reach real people, Nimmo said.