Facebook ad the removal of two separate networks that used false identities to promote government propaganda.
The first network was located in China. While targeting the United States, its primary focus was on the Philippines and countries in Southeast Asia. This is the second time that Facebook has removed pages associated with this campaign, the company said, and this time the people running it have used a VPN to try to hide their identities.
“Although those behind this activity attempted to conceal their identity and coordination, our investigation revealed links to individuals in China’s Fujian Province,” Facebook said in a statement announcing the withdrawal.
The propaganda operation consisted of Instagram pages and accounts, but its main purpose was to spread fake identities on Facebook that were used to amplify content. People running profiles “pretended to be locals,” the statement said.
The network was targeting the United States, but that was not its primary focus. Stories posted about Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg as well as President Donald Trump, both for support and opposition.
The fake accounts were also used to “like and comment on other people’s posts, especially on naval activity in the South China Sea, including US Navy ships.”
Naval activity was also at the center of the network targeting people in Southeast Asia, as well as positions supporting Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Overall, the network reached around 194,000 people and spent $ 60 on advertisements using the Chinese yuan. Six Instagram accounts, nine groups and 115 Facebook accounts were deleted.
The second network deleted by Facebook originated and targeted the Philippines. It consisted of 31 pages, 57 Facebook accounts and 20 Instagram accounts.
Facebook investigated the propaganda network after being alerted by Rapper, an independent news organization in the country targeted by Duterte. The propaganda network has supported the Philippine president and published on a variety of political topics, ramping up its activity between 2019 and 2020.
“Although the people behind this activity tried to conceal their identities, our investigation revealed links to the Philippine military and the Philippine police,” the Facebook announcement read.
These entities spent $ 1,100 on advertising on the platform.