Facebook and Twitter shut down a network of fake accounts on Friday that forwarded pro-Trump messages while “masquerading” as Americans with AI-generated faces as profile photos.
Facebook said in a blog spot that it has found connections of the accounts to the US-based media company called The BL, which further claims having ties with Epoch Media Group (Epoch).
In August, NBC News reported that the group was circulating messages in support of President Donald Trump across social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Epoch has strong connections with Falun Gong, an eccentric Chinese spiritual community, which has faced significant scrutiny from the US’ central government.
According to The Verge, Epoch stated that it does not have any connection to the BL. However, Facebook had something different to say, “With all due respect to the publisher of the Epoch Times, he may not know executives at The BL were active admins on Epoch Media Group Pages as recently as this morning when their accounts were deactivated and the BL was removed.”
Facebook noted that artificial intelligence was used to generate false profile photos for fake accounts. These accounts were used in the latest campaigns. Posing as Americans, those accounts posted BL content in various Facebook groups. Pro-Trump messages were often posted “at very high frequencies” and linked to off-platform sites belonging to the BL and The Epoch Times. Individuals in the US and Vietnam managed the accounts and pages.
Facebook said that it eliminated 610 accounts, 89 Facebook pages, 156 groups, and 72 Instagram accounts that had connections to the organization. About 55 million accounts followed one of these Facebook pages and 92,000 followed at least one of the Instagram accounts. According to Facebook, the organization spent nearly $9.5 million in advertisements.
“The BL is now banned from Facebook”, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of security policy, said in a statement. “We are continuing to investigate all linked networks, and will take action as appropriate if we determine they are engaged in deceptive behavior.”
What did Facebook say in the Blog Post?
Facebook said it eliminated two unconnected networks of accounts, pages, and groups for engaging in foreign and government interference. This action was taken because of planned and coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram. The first operation originated in the country of Georgia and focused on domestic audiences. The second originated in Vietnam and the US and targeted mainly the US and some on Vietnam and Spanish and Chinese-speaking audiences globally. Each of these groups created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing.
Facebook said it is making progress in weeding out this abuse; however, it acknowledges the challenges associated with the process. The social media company is committed to continually improve to stay ahead. Facebook wants to indulge in building better technology, hiring more people and working closely with law enforcement, security experts, and other companies.
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