Someone in China created thousands of fake social media accounts designed to look like Americans and used them to spread polarizing political content, apparently intended to divide the United States on next year’s election is yet to come, Meta said Thursday.
The network of almost 4,800 fake accounts was trying to create an audience when it was identified and removed by the company that owns Facebook and Instagram. The accounts feature fictitious photos, names and locations that appear to be American Facebook users weighing in on political issues.
Instead of spreading false content as other networks do, the accounts are used to share publications from X, formerly Twitter, made by politicians, media outlets and other actors. The accompanying narratives draw content from both liberal and conservative sources, indicating that their goal is not to support one side or the other, but to exaggerate partisan divisions and exacerbate polarization.
The newly identified network shows how America’s foreign adversaries are exploiting American technology platforms to sow discord and mistrust, and hints at serious threats posed by online disinformation next year. , when national elections are held in the United States, India, Mexico, Ukraine, Pakistan. , Taiwan and other countries.
“These networks are still struggling to build audiences, but this is a warning,” said Ben Nimmo, who leads research on fake behavior on Meta platforms. “Foreign threat actors are trying to reach people on the internet before next year’s election, and we need to remain vigilant.”
Meta Platforms Inc, based in Menlo Park, California, has not publicly linked the Chinese network to the Chinese government, but it has determined that the network originates from that country. The content disseminated by the accounts widely complements other propaganda and disinformation by the Chinese government that seeks to increase partisan and ideological divisions in the United States.