Breaking News

Facebook removed a fake Swiss scientist account that was part of an international misinformation campaign

Facebook removed a fake Swiss scientist account that was part of an international misinformation campaign

Buried deep within Facebook's November report on Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior is a tale of international intrigue that feels like an attempted disinformation campaign like a Netflix drama (though Netflix isn't using social media for ideas these days). does). Khan, maybe stay). On 24 July, a Swiss biologist named Wilson Edwards claimed on Facebook and Twitter that the US was pressuring World Health Organization (WHO) scientists to study the origins of COVID-19.

His claims quickly spread on social media, as such claims are accustomed to, and within a week, the Global Times and People's Daily, two state-run Chinese media outlets, described Wilson Edwards' claims as "intimidating" by the US. I condemned. as rejected. Wilson Edwards created his Facebook account two days after China refused to accept a plan by the WHO for a phase II study into the origins of the coronavirus.

Have you guessed the plot twist yet? According to the Swiss Embassy in Beijing, it has been learned that there is no such Swiss national named Wilson Edwards. “If you are present, we would like to meet you! But it is more likely that this is fake news, and we ask the Chinese press and netizens to remove the post,” the embassy tweeted from its official account on August 10 .

The day the Swiss embassy tweeted, Facebook investigated and removed the Wilson Edwards account. In Facebook parent company Meta, Global IO Threat Intel Lead (excellent title for our play) Ben Nimmo writes that the Wilson Edwards account was part of a misinformation campaign that originated in China.

“In essence, this campaign was a hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting a fake personality,” Nimmo says. A meta investigation found that almost the entire initial dissemination of the Wilson Edwards story on Facebook was unfounded: "the work of a multi-pronged, massively failed-effect operation", which created hundreds of fake accounts as well as some authentic accounts. also added. Was. Employees of "Chinese state infrastructure companies in four continents".

Only a handful of real people are linked to Wilson Edwards, Meta says, despite 524 Facebook accounts, 20 Facebook pages, four Facebook groups, and 86 Instagram accounts the company removed as part of its investigation. The scammers spent less than $5,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads as part of the campaign and used VPNs to hide the origin of the accounts.

“This is in line with what we have seen in our research of covert influence operations over the past four years: we have not seen successful IO campaigns built on a strategy of simulated engagement,” Nimmo says. "Unlike elaborate fictitious individuals who work in building authentic communities to influence them, the content liked by these crude fake accounts will typically only be seen by their 'fake friend'." (And we all know what happens to fake friends.)

The group of fake accounts, which Meta linked to the Wilson Edwards scheme, some linked to the information security firm Silence in China, apparently (failed, Meta says) made other attempts to influence operations that were "usually smaller." Were." Massive and massive "affect pedaling."

It's not the most exciting ending to our story, but at least Wilson Edwards won't be trying to catch up with another international health organization. Now, if we could find someone to rein in the steadfast people calling me about a car warranty I didn't know I had...

No comments