Meta takes down massive ‘Spamouflage’ operation tied to Chinese law enforcement

    7,704 Facebook accounts.

    That’s how many profiles tied to a sprawling “Spamouflage” network that Meta says it has removed from its platform. Spamouflage is a term dubbed by researchers to describe China-based online disinformation campaigns and other propaganda.

    Along with those more than 7,700 Facebook accounts, Meta also removed 954 Facebook Pages, 15 Facebook Groups, and 15 Instagram accounts that were part of the operation. The company detailed its actions in its Q2 Quarterly Adversarial Threat report, which was released on Tuesday.

    There are a few interesting standouts from the report about this network. For one, according to Meta, it believes this particular Spamouflage campaign has been running since 2018. That means that this disinformation campaign has been running for about 5 years and was broadly undetected by the platform until now. Meta does mention that it discovered connections between the network and clusters of others, which it had previously removed from the platform.

    Furthermore, according to Meta, the company found links between the Spamouflage campaign and “individuals associated with Chinese law enforcement.” Meta did not elaborate on those links further in this report.

    In total, the network amassed around 560,000 followers. However, Meta said that the vast majority of its followers appeared to be fake or inauthentic accounts that were likely purchased from “spam operators.” The content posted by the network did not receive substantial engagement according to the report.

    Meta also shared that the network had spent around $3,500 in total for ad campaigns across Facebook.

    This particular Spamouflage campaign went well beyond Meta’s platforms as well. The report detailed accounts that were part of the network on YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, Medium, Quora, Blogspot, Vimeo, LiveJournal, Tumblr, and X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

    Meta regularly shares its findings on takedowns of major inauthentic account networks across its platforms. Last September, it detailed a first: A China-based network that was targeting U.S. domestic politics. This most recent network also continued to share similar content, ranging from topics like COVID-19 and the bombing of the Nord Stream pipeline.

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