In a significant move against "coordinated inauthentic behavior," Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has eliminated a substantial disinformation campaign with roots tied to Chinese law enforcement. The campaign was notably widespread, infiltrating 50 different platforms, including X (formerly Twitter), YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, and Medium.
Meta identified and removed 7,704 accounts, 954 pages, and 15 groups related to the campaign on Facebook alone. According to the report, this may be "the largest known cross-platform covert influence operation in the world."
The operation primarily focused on Chinese-speaking audiences outside China and aimed to influence public opinion in Taiwan, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Japan. It primarily posted favorable commentary about China and its province, Xinjiang, while criticizing Western policies and detractors of the Chinese government.
Although extensive in its reach, the campaign didn’t manage to make a significant impact. The disinformation network took over Facebook pages known for spam and generated fake engagement from countries like Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Brazil, missing their intended targets.
Researchers connected the disinformation campaign to "Spamouflage," an existing China-based operation. Meta didn't shy away from attributing the campaign directly to Chinese law enforcement.
Despite the campaign's size and scope, its ineffectiveness serves as a reminder that quantity doesn't always translate to influence. With Meta’s intervention, one of the largest known disinformation efforts has been neutralized, but the threat landscape continues to evolve. As such, vigilance remains crucial in the fight against disinformation.