Twitter and Meta Tackle Anti-Vaxxers and Chinese Disinformation

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Social media giants Twitter and Meta have been forced to remove thousands of “inauthentic” accounts linked to state-backed disinformation campaigns and anti-vaxxer rhetoric.

China loomed large over much of the activity. Twitter revealed that it removed over 3400 accounts – around 2000 of which were being used to amplify Communist Party narratives related to the treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, Meta removed four Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) operations. These included a Chinese effort to spread false news about the US putting pressure on the World Health Organisation (WHO) to blame China for the pandemic.

English-speaking audiences in the US and UK and Chinese-speaking audiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet were reportedly the targets of this campaign.

Dismantling the operation required Meta to take down 524 Facebook accounts, 20 Pages, four Groups, and 86 Instagram accounts.

Other CIBs were focused around networks in Palestine, Poland and Belarus.

Meta also revealed two new policy violation categories: “mass reporting” and “brigading.”

The former works when a network of accounts mass-report an account or content in order to get it incorrectly removed by Meta.

The firm described one such network it took action on in Vietnam

“They coordinated the targeting of activists and other people who publicly criticized the Vietnamese government and used false reports of various violations in an attempt to have these users removed from our platform,” it explained.

“The people behind this activity relied primarily on authentic and duplicate accounts to submit hundreds – in some cases, thousands – of complaints against their targets through our abuse reporting flows.”

Meanwhile, brigading is where Facebook users work together to engage en masse in repetitive behaviors to harass or silence individuals.

This was the case with a network of anti-vaxxers belonging to the conspiracy movement “V_V” which Meta recently removed. It originated in Italy and France and targeted medical professionals, journalists and elected officials with mass harassment.

“The people behind this operation relied on a combination of authentic, duplicate and fake accounts to mass comment on posts from Pages, including news entities, and individuals to intimidate them and suppress their views,” it said.

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