Facebook on Tuesday said that it has shut down over 150 fake accounts that were being run from China, including accounts posting about November’s US presidential election. “We removed 155 accounts, eleven pages, nine groups and six Instagram accounts for violating our policy against foreign or government interference which is coordinated inauthentic behaviour on behalf of a foreign or government entity,” Facebook said in a statement.
“This activity originated in China and focused primarily on the Philippines and Southeast Asia more broadly, and also on the United States.” The accounts “posted content both in support of and against presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Donald Trump,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, wrote in a post on the company’s website.
According to a report by CNN, Facebook said that the scale of the operation was small, but it is the first time the company has made public details about an operation it found to be run from China that had been posting about the US election.
Facebook did not say if the accounts were tied to the Chinese government, only that the accounts were run from China’s Fujian province. The company did point out, however, that the accounts had been posting about “Beijing’s interests in the South China Sea.”
Gleicher stressed that most of the activity focused on South East Asia and only a very small amount of activity focused on the 2020 election.
Earlier this month, Facebook announced it had received a tip from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that led it to expose a fake leftwing news outlet posting about the 2020 election that Facebook determined was linked to people involved in a Russian troll group.