Meta claims US military link to pro-US online propaganda on Facebook

Profiles posted content promoting the US and opposing countries like Russia, China and Iran

Vishwam Sankaran
Thursday 24 November 2022 06:13 GMT

Related: Facebook to Remove Religious and Political Views From User Profiles

Facebook parent company Meta claims individuals associated with the US military were behind accounts spreading pro-US propaganda abroad.

Meta had taken down these accounts in August, saying they exhibited “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” after the profiles were flagged by independent researchers.

These profiles had been posting content promoting the US and opposing countries like Russia, China and Iran, according to a report published in August by the analytics firm Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO).

The network’s activity was found across Meta’s platforms, including 39 Facebook accounts, 16 Pages, two Groups and 26 Instagram accounts.

About 22,000 accounts followed one or more of these pages and about 400 accounts on Facebook joined at least one of these Groups.

Around 12,000 accounts followed one or more of the 26 flagged Instagram accounts, Meta noted.

In the latest report, the social media giant noted that the network behind these accounts originated in the US and focused on a number of countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The network operatives ran their propaganda on platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, with content such as videos, articles, photos and memes about the country they focused on, Meta noted, adding that a majority of the content had little to no engagement from authentic communities.

“Although the people behind this operation attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the US military,” the Facebook parent company said.

The report said the network spreading pro-US propaganda mirrored similar tactics used by campaigns against the west, including the use of fake accounts and artificially generated images.

“The people behind this activity posted primarily in Arabic, Farsi and Russian about news and current events, including terrorism concerns and praise of the US military, as well as content about the Covid-19 pandemic — some of which we removed for violating our misinformation policy,” it noted.

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