Facebook parent company Meta has detected fake accounts attempting to stir up controversy around the United States midterm elections, it announced Tuesday (Sept. 27).
According to Meta, the accounts were set up by Chinese individuals posing as Americans. Those individuals then attacked politicians from both sides of the aisle and posted controversial material.
Meta says there were about 84 Facebook accounts within the fake network and they were taken down before they had a chance to widen their reach. They were not attributed to Chinese intelligence agencies, but rather individuals working in the country.
“It’s the first time we’ve seen that from a Chinese operation in this way. So even though it was small, even though we caught it early, it’s a significant change in what we’ve seen from Chinese operations,” Ben Nimmo, Meta’s head of threat intelligence, said in a statement.
He added that the tech giant is in a better position to assess the threats than in the past, however. In 2016, Nimmo said, there were only a few open-source researchers serving as a defensive team.“What I see now is there really is that joined-up approach. There’s a team effort that goes across platforms, news outlets, and open-source institutions. So there are far more people playing defence,” Nimmo said.