Asian media is reporting that Facebook has dismantled a disinformation network targeting the Philippines. According to a report in The Diplomat, the network had an audience of at least 130,000 followers and promoted politicians favorable to China, including President Rodrigo Duterte:
October 6, 2020 In U.S.-China relations, “coordinated inauthentic behavior” is no longer just a polite description for bilateral summits, but the latest tactic in the ongoing competition for power and influence in the Indo-Pacific. On September 22, Facebook announced that it had dismantled a Chinese disinformation campaign that used false accounts and profiles to dupe unwitting individuals into consuming Chinese disinformation. Dubbed “Operation Naval Gazing” by the social media analysis firm Graphika, the network consisted of 155 accounts, 11 pages, nine groups and six Instagram accounts and attracted an audience of at least 130,000 followers. The network particularly targeted the Philippines, where it actively interfered in Philippine politics and generated millions of digital interactions by promoting politicians favorable to China, including President Rodrigo Duterte. This marks the second time that Facebook has removed disinformation networks emanating from China and heralds a new age of information warfare in the Indo-Pacific, where the United States and allies like the Philippines are uniquely vulnerable to attack.
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According to a recent Foreignpolicy.com report, Philipino President Dutertehas has backed down on campaign promises that he would take tough action against China in the region.
The Philippines is rated 54th on the 2019 Economist Democracy Index and categorized as a “Flawed Democracy” along with the United States.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported earlier this month that that Facebook had deleted what were described as “limited Chinese operations” aimed at both helping and during the election prospects of US President Donald Trump.