Facebook dismantles new disinformation networks on politics and Covid

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, dismantled malicious networks that used vaccine discussions to harass professionals or sow divisions in society, a sign that misinformation related to the pandemic also continues to flow.

“They insulted doctors, journalists and legislators, calling them supporters of the Nazis because they promoted vaccines against Covid and ensuring that mandatory vaccination would lead to a health dictatorship, “Mike Dvilyanski, director of research on emerging threats at Facebook, explained at a press conference.

Dvilyanski was referring to a network linked to the anti-vaccine movement called “V_V”, which the Californian company accuses of carrying out a campaign of intimidation and massive harassment against prominent figures in health, media and politicians in Italy and France.

The authors of this operation coordinated, in particular, through the Telegram messaging system, where volunteers had access to lists of target people and “training” to escape automatic detection by Facebook.

Their tactics included leaving comments under victims’ messages instead of posting content, and using slightly modified spellings such as “vaxcinati” instead of “vaccinati,” which means “vaccinated people” in Italian.

The social media giant acknowledged that it was difficult to assess the scope and impact of the campaign, which ran across different platforms.

“We have observed what appears to be a tentacular populist movement that combines conspiracy theories existing with anti-authoritarian narratives and a torrent of health disinformation “, detail experts from Graphika, a company specializing in analysis of social networks in a report on this operation.

Meta also said that it dismantled another operation orchestrated from China, which used fake accounts to promote false information.

The promoters of that campaign amplified messages posted on the profile of a fabricated Swiss biologist according to which the United States was pressuring the World Health Organization to blame China for the coronavirus.

Chinese state media later cited this bogus biologist.

“It was like a gallery of mirrors, constantly reflecting a single false personality,” Meta described.

The Californian group has found links between this operation and employees of the Chinese cybersecurity company Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co., as well as people associated with other Chinese companies specializing in infrastructure around the world.


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