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Cops behind ‘troll farm’ supporting govt narratives, claims Meta
Published on: Friday, August 05, 2022
By: FMT
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Technology company Meta says it deleted hundreds of Facebook and Instagram accounts for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour.
PETALING JAYA: The police may be behind a network of accounts and pages on social media that had attempted to manipulate public discourse in the country, according to technology company Meta.

The company behind Facebook and Instagram said it had removed 596 Facebook accounts, 180 pages, 11 groups and 72 Instagram accounts for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour.

In its Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report, Meta said the individuals behind those accounts, pages and groups ran a troll farm – a coordinated effort by co-located operators to corrupt or manipulate public discourse by using fake accounts and misleading people about who is behind them.

“Although the people behind it attempted to conceal their identity and coordination, our investigation found links to Malaysian police,” it said.

It said these individuals were also active on TikTok and Twitter, where they posted memes in Malay in support of the current government coalition, with claims of corruption among its critics.

On Facebook, this network managed pages, including those posing as independent news entities, and praised the police while criticising the opposition.

“Typically, their posting activity accelerated during weekdays, taking breaks for lunch. Their fake accounts were fairly under-developed and some of them used stolen profile pictures,” said the report.

FMT has reached out to the police for comment.

Meta said it found this network after reviewing information about a small portion of this activity which had initially been suspected to have originated in China by researchers at Clemson University.

The report said about 427,000 FB accounts followed one or more of these pages, around 4,000 accounts joined one or more of these groups, and about 15,000 accounts followed one or more of the Instagram accounts that were detected.

It said that up to US$6,000 (about RM26,740) was spent for ads on Facebook and Instagram, which was paid for primarily in ringgit.

Meta described “inauthentic behaviour (IB)” as an attempt to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal, in which fake accounts were central to the operation.

In each case, it said, people coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.

“It is primarily centred around amplifying and increasing the distribution of content, and is often (but not exclusively) financially motivated,” it said in the report.

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