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Facebook dismantles new political disinformation networks linked to COVID

Facebook dismantles new political disinformation networks linked to COVID

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, said Wednesday that it has dismantled malicious networks, which have been using vaccine discussions to harass professionals or divide companies, in a sign that disinformation about the pandemic has not abated.

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“They insulted doctors, journalists and elected officials, calling them Nazi supporters for promoting vaccines against COVID, ensuring that compulsory vaccination would lead to a health dictatorship,” Mike Devliansky, Director of Investigations into Emerging Threats, explained at a press conference. .

He was referring to a network linked to the anti-vaccination movement called “V_V,” which the California group accuses of carrying out a campaign of mass intimidation and harassment against figures in health, media and politics in Italy and France.

The perpetrators coordinated this operation privately via the Telegram messaging system, where volunteers were able to access lists of people to target and “train” to avoid automatic detection by Facebook.

Their tactics included leaving comments under victims’ messages rather than posting content, and using slightly altered spellings such as “vaxcinati” instead of “Vaccinati”, which means “vaccinated people” in Italian.

The social media giant said it was difficult to assess the extent and impact of the campaign, which took place across different platforms.

“We have observed what appears to be a sprawling populist movement that combines current conspiratorial theories with anti-authoritarian narratives, and a torrent of health disinformation,” detailed experts from Graphika, a social media analytics firm, said in a report on the process.

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Meta also said it had dismantled another Chinese-orchestrated operation that used fake accounts to promote false information.

They inflated posts on the profile of a fabricated Swiss biologist who had allegedly been pressuring the World Health Organization to blame the coronavirus on China.

Then the Chinese state media quoted this pseudo-biologist. “It was like a gallery of mirrors, endlessly reflecting a single pseudo-personality,” Mita said in a statement.

The California group found links between the operation and employees of the Chinese cybersecurity firm Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co. So are people associated with other Chinese infrastructure companies around the world.