Meta announced this Tuesday that it had detected and eliminated a disinformation network originating in the United States and it was even linked to personnel from the Army of that country.
From this, two groups have been deleted, 16 websites, 26 Instagram profiles and 39 Facebook accounts. “Most of the posts from this operation had little or no involvement from authentic communities,” the company said, adding that this campaign was primarily targeting Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Yemen.
The Stanford Internet Observatory noted in its report published in August that it was “an interconnected network of accounts” on social media platforms that “used deceptive tactics to promote pro-Western narratives.” He also stated that it was not “a homogeneous operation”, but rather a series of campaigns that were carried out over five years.
These operations touched on issues related to the Russian operation in Ukraine, where they criticized Moscow for the death of innocent civilians and for other atrocities that Russian troops had allegedly committed for the sake of the “imperial ambitions” of the Kremlin, as well as the treatment of China to the Uyghurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group that lives in the country, the support for the Taliban in Afghanistan by Moscow and Beijing, among others. Meanwhile, “they systematically promoted the interests of the US and its allies.”
To do this, the profiles impersonated the communities they were targeting, with critical messages written in Arabic or Russian, where they also shared news from US government-funded media outlets, such as Voice of America or Radio Free Europe, and even false media were created. In the case of Russia, for example, materials from “Western and pro-Western sources in Russian such as Meduza.io and the BBC Russian service” were copied and translated into English.
These campaigns, according to Meta, were also carried out on Internet services such as Telegram, Twitter, YouTube, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki.
Chinese and Russian disinformation networks…
Last September, Meta reported that it had dismantled two different disinformation networks coming from China and Russia. The Chinese operation was focused on the US and its upcoming elections, while the Russian campaign focused mainly on Germany, France, Italy, Ukraine and the UK with narratives relating to the conflict on Ukrainian soil.
In the case of the Russian network, more than 1,600 Facebook and Instagram accounts and around 60 web pages were removed, “which were carefully posing as legitimate websites of such prestigious media as Spiegel, The Guardian and Bild. They were published there original articles in which they criticized Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, and supported Russia and argued that Western sanctions would be counterproductive,” the company detailed then.