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Meta removes 13 fake accounts and 7 fake groups targeting online discussions in India

The network of accounts and groups operated made-up personas on social media platforms under the guise of journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists.

Meta removed thirteen accounts and seven groups with Chinese origins, that primarily targeted India and Tibet, for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior according to the company’s latest quarterly Adversarial Threat Report. Meta defines coordinated inauthentic behavior as “efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal, in which fake accounts are central to the operation.” This network of Chinese accounts and groups operated fictitious personas on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) posing as journalists, lawyers, and human rights activists, and focused their efforts on Tibet and the Arunachal Pradesh regions. These accounts had the same name and profile pictures on Facebook and X and commented/shared each other’s posts to appear more authentic.

The company also removed 4,789 Facebook accounts in China that targeted the United States. These accounts, Meta said, posed as Americans and posted content about US politics and US-China relations. According to Meta as of this quarter, China is now the third most common geographical source of coordinated inauthentic behavior.

What kind of content did this network create?

This network of Chinese accounts posted about regional news, culture, sports, and travel in Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh. The Tibet-focused accounts acted like pro-independence activists and accused the Dalai Lama and his followers of corruption and pedophilia. On the other hand, accounts focusing on Arunachal Pradesh put out positive posts about the Indian army, Indian athletes, and Indian scientific achievements but also accused the Indian government of corruption and supporting ethnic violence in the Indian state of Manipur.

Around the middle of the year, some of the accounts that were earlier pretending to be Americans changed their profile pictures and names and began liking and commenting on posts by the Chinese network that targeted India.

Why it matters:

Meta’s report highlights the dangers of coordinated inauthentic behavior online. While this network of Chinese accounts was taken down before they reached real communities on Meta’s platforms, if they went unnoticed, they would have the potential to create social and political unrest in India.

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Google also spotted Chinese threat activity:

Speaking to Bloomberg, Kate Morgan a senior engineering manager at Google’s Threat Analysis Group said that the company has seen a rise in cybersecurity threat activity aimed at Taiwan. She shared that Google is tracking over 100 attack groups it thinks are Beijing-backed.

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