Facebook said it closed a network of China’s fake accounts on Tuesday, which recently participated in the US presidential race.
According to the head of security policy Nathaniel Gleiker, Takedown came as a battle of social networks during the fight against “coordinated inhumane behavior” in China and the first time Facebook saw such a campaign targeting American politics.
Facebook did not link the campaign to the Chinese government, saying its investigation found links to people in China’s Fujian province.
In the takedown, Facebook removed 155 accounts, 11 pages, 9 groups, and 6 Instagram accounts for violating its policy against foreign interference in deceptive schemes.
The campaign out of China focuses mainly on the Philippines and Southeast Asia more broadly, and only slightly on the US, according to Gleicher.
The post specifically commented about naval activity in the South China Sea, including US Navy ships, Facebook said.
Account holders will have to use techniques to circumvent China’s “Great Firewall”, which bans US social networks. Gleicher said that the people running the page posed as local to the locations they targeted, and tried to hide their locations using virtual private network software.
Network posted in Southeast Asia about Beijing’s interest in the South China Sea; Hong Kong, and in support of the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Facebook said.
The network had apparently been active since at least 2018, only recently according to Gleicher, who began posting content for both US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
“This operation had been in operation in Southeast Asia for some time. Its purpose in the US seemed nascent and ineffective,” Gleicher said during a conversation with reporters.
“These actors hardly posted anything; it sounded like an audience.”
According to the California-based social network, approximately 133,000 people followed one or more of the campaigns on Facebook pages, and about 61,000 people joined one or more of its online groups.
The campaign only spent about $ 60 on ads on Facebook, paying in Chinese yuan, Glicher said.