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Facebook Deletes Chinese Accounts Both Attacking & Defending Trump

October 14th, 2020 06:26

The New York Times report­ed last month that Face­book delet­ed what were described as “lim­it­ed Chi­nese oper­a­tions” aimed at both help­ing and dur­ing the elec­tion prospects of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Accord­ing to the report:

Sep­tem­ber 23, 2020 Face­book has detect­ed lim­it­ed Chi­nese oper­a­tions intend­ed to both help and hurt Pres­i­dent Trump’s re-elec­tion chances, the com­pa­ny announced on Tues­day, the first pub­lic dis­clo­sure of Chi­nese efforts to influ­ence the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Novem­ber. The Chi­nese activ­i­ty, while mod­est and not direct­ly attrib­uted to the gov­ern­ment in Bei­jing, could under­cut Mr. Trump’s repeat­ed con­tention that Chi­na is inter­ven­ing in the elec­tion to sup­port for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date. While the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty has assessed that Chi­na oppos­es Mr. Trump’s re-elec­tion, offi­cials said this week that the actions on Face­book so far were small and Bei­jing had not yet decid­ed to mount a large-scale influ­ence oper­a­tion com­pa­ra­ble to Russ­ian efforts in 2016 and this year. Face­book iden­ti­fied a range of fake accounts push­ing infor­ma­tion about Amer­i­can and Philip­pine pol­i­tics and Chi­nese activ­i­ty in the South Chi­na Sea. Though much of the activ­i­ty out­lined by Chi­na was cen­tered on the Philip­pines, some was more direct­ly rel­e­vant to Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. Face­book said it was remov­ing the accounts for vio­lat­ing its pol­i­cy against “inau­then­tic behav­ior.” The activ­i­ty was coor­di­nat­ed and orig­i­nat­ed in Chi­na, though Chi­nese offi­cials, includ­ing the ambas­sador to the Unit­ed States, have denied alle­ga­tions they are seek­ing to influ­ence the vote in November.Facebook secu­ri­ty first detect­ed the new activ­i­ty and shared the infor­ma­tion with U.S. gov­ern­ment offi­cials. Amer­i­can tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies as well as intel­li­gence agen­cies have shown more will­ing­ness this year to release infor­ma­tion about for­eign influ­ence oper­a­tions, hav­ing been crit­i­cized by law­mak­ers for being too cau­tious in 2016.

Read the rest here.

The arti­cle went on to cite the head of secu­ri­ty at Face­book who explained the seem­ing­ly con­tra­dic­to­ry nature of the Chi­nese activities:

“They were focused on dri­ving divi­sion,” said Nathaniel Gle­ich­er, the head of secu­ri­ty at Face­book. “The engage­ment with the U.S. was both nascent and lim­it­ed. It was both sup­port­ive and crit­i­cal of the major polit­i­cal can­di­dates in the U.S.”