Facebook removes China-linked accounts attacking Hong Kong protesters

Facebook removes China-linked accounts attacking Hong Kong protesters

Facebook has removed a number of accounts which posted images depicting protesters in Hong Kong as terrorists and cockroaches.

The social network said it removed the small number of accounts, which had around 15,500 followers, after they were found to be involved in “co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

Facebook said it found the accounts were linked to individuals associated with the Chinese government.

It comes in the wake of Twitter announcing it had suspended more than 200,000 accounts which it believes were part of a Chinese government influence campaign targeting the protest movement in Hong Kong.

Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said the five Facebook accounts, seven pages and three groups posted content which labelled the protesters “thugs” and attempted to lure users to sites away from Facebook.

We will continue monitoring and will take action if we find additional violations

Images were also posted which depicted protesters as cockroaches and compared them to members of the Islamic State terror group.

“The individuals behind this campaign engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts — some of which had been already disabled by our automated systems — to manage pages posing as news organisations, post in groups, disseminate their content, and also drive people to off-platform news sites,” Mr Gleicher said.

“They frequently posted about local political news and issues including topics like the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government.

“Based on a tip shared by Twitter about activity they found on their platform, we conducted an internal investigation into suspected co-ordinated inauthentic behaviour in the region and identified this activity.

“We will continue monitoring and will take action if we find additional violations. We’ve shared our analysis with law enforcement and industry partners.”

Facebook said finding and removing such abuse was an “ongoing challenge” but it would continue to build technology, hire more staff and work with other companies in order to fight such content.

- Press Association

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