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Meta Removed Over 600 Accounts Linked to China’s Disinformation Efforts on COVID

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Meta, formerly the Facebook Company, announced Wednesday that it has removed over 600 Facebook and Instagram accounts that were spreading false information claiming the United States pressured the World Health Organization (WHO) to blame COVID on China.

The 600 accounts are linked to a Chinese influence operation, and “though Meta said the network was unsuccessful, it marks yet another COVID disinformation campaign instigated by China in an effort to discredit the U.S.” reports Axios.

In its Adversarial Threat Report, Meta said “in essence, this campaign was a hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting a single fake persona…this is the first time we have observed an operation that included a coordinated cluster of state employees to amplify itself in this way.”

The details are that an account of a fake persona claiming to be a Swiss biologist was created in July. The account was created two days after it was reported that the Chinese government had rejected a WHO plan for the second phase to continue studying the origins of the COVID-19 virus.

The account posted a message alleging that “WHO sources and a number of fellow researchers” had complained of “enormous pressure and even intimidation” from the United States. Axios details what happened next:

•   Within two days, the post had circulated among hundreds of accounts and some Chinese state media, according to Meta.

•   A number of these accounts had ties to individuals at the firm Sichuan Silence Information Technology and some Chinese state infrastructure companies, though Meta said it had not identified a connection between Sichuan Silence Information Technology and the Chinese government.

•   The campaign targeted English-speaking audiences in the U.S. and the U.K., as well as Chinese-speaking audiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet.

After reviewing reports about the original fake account, Meta removed 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four groups and 86 accounts on Instagram.

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