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Meta claims US military link to pro-US online propaganda on Facebook

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Facebook parent company Meta claims individuals related to the US military were behind accounts spreading pro-US propaganda abroad.

Meta had taken down these accounts in August, saying they exhibited “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” after the profiles were flagged by independent researchers.

These profiles had been posting content promoting the US and opposing countries like Russia, China and Iran, in line with a report published in August by the analytics firm Graphika and the Stanford Web Observatory (SIO).

The network’s activity was found across Meta’s platforms, including 39 Facebook accounts, 16 Pages, two Groups and 26 Instagram accounts.

About 22,000 accounts followed a number of of those pages and about 400 accounts on Facebook joined not less than one in all these Groups.

Around 12,000 accounts followed a number of of the 26 flagged Instagram accounts, Meta noted.

In the most recent report, the social media giant noted that the network behind these accounts originated within the US and focused on numerous countries, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

The network operatives ran their propaganda on platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, with content similar to videos, articles, photos and memes in regards to the country they focused on, Meta noted, adding that a majority of the content had little to no engagement from authentic communities.

“Although the people behind this operation attempted to hide their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to individuals related to the US military,” the Facebook parent company said.

The report said the network spreading pro-US propaganda mirrored similar tactics utilized by campaigns against the west, including the usage of fake accounts and artificially generated images.

“The people behind this activity posted primarily in Arabic, Farsi and Russian about news and current events, including terrorism concerns and praise of the US military, in addition to content in regards to the Covid-19 pandemic — a few of which we removed for violating our misinformation policy,” it noted.

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