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Meta just removed thousands of fake Facebook accounts. Where were they from?

SHARE Meta just removed thousands of fake Facebook accounts. Where were they from?
Officials at Meta say they have found and disabled a network of thousands of fake Facebook accounts linked to China that were used to spread partisan content in the U.S.

Facebook’s Meta logo sign is seen at the company headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on, Oct. 28, 2021. Officials at Meta say they have found and disabled a network of thousands of fake Facebook accounts linked to China that were used to spread partisan content in the U.S. The accounts disclosed on Nov. 30, 2023, were designed to look like they were run by everyday Americans.

Tony Avelar, Associated Press

Thousands of fake Facebook accounts reportedly originating in China have been deleted. 

Meta said Thursday it pinpointed the 4,789 accounts because they were “spreading polarizing content about U.S. domestic politics and U.S.-China relations,” according to The Hill

Users of the fake Facebook accounts from China pretended to be Americans, according to The Associated Press. They spread both conservative and liberal sources, aiming to polarize Facebook users rather than back one candidate. 

The Associated Press noted the timing. “The newly identified network shows how America’s foreign adversaries exploit U.S.-based tech platforms to sow discord and distrust, and it hints at the serious threats posed by online disinformation next year, when national elections will occur in the U.S., India, Mexico, Ukraine, Pakistan, Taiwan and other nations,” The Associated Press report read.

According to NPR, Meta indicated that only Russia and Iran outpace China as the most common sources of “foreign influence operations,” and in 2023 Meta has taken down five networks of fake Chinese Facebook accounts. 

What was in posts from the fake accounts?

The Hill reported some Facebook posts from the deleted accounts copied verbatim content posted by politicians like Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., on the site X, formerly known as Twitter.

Many posts from the fake network were about China and its relations with the U.S., according to NPR.

Looking ahead to 2024

Fake social accounts like those from China that Meta deleted indicate an “attempt to have some networks in place in the lead-up to the 2024 election,” according to NBC News.

“Sophisticated” AI programs could also affect disinformation campaigns next year, according to The Associated Press. It’s now “easier than ever to create lifelike audio and video that could mislead voters,” The Associated Press reported.

Were any fake Facebook accounts successful at spreading their messages?

Not really, Meta said, according to The Hill. But they’re a “warning” about the many disinformation campaigns that could happen in 2024, said Ben Nimmo, who leads investigations into inauthentic behavior on Meta’s platforms, The Associated Press reported.