April 12, 2024

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Meta claims US military link to online propaganda campaign

The newest adversarial-threat report from Meta claims that “individuals associated with the US military” are connected to an online propaganda campaign.

Independent researchers stated in August that the campaign was the first significant covert pro-US propaganda operation that a big-tech company had successfully shut down.

It backed the US and its allies while criticising nations like Iran, China, and Russia.

But authorities claimed that it was largely ineffective.

For violating the policies of the platforms against “coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” 39 accounts, 16 pages, and two groups on Facebook, as well as 26 accounts on Instagram, were deleted.

According to Meta, this network is American-born.

It concentrated on nations such as Afghanistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Yemen; and it mimicked tactics frequently used in propaganda campaigns against the West, such as false personas, artificially created images, and campaigns across multiple platforms.

Researchers found that the accounts that targeted Iran had posted about issues like women’s rights and had criticised Iranian authorities and policies.

According to Meta, in addition to Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, VKontakte, and Odnoklassniki, the operation also used other popular internet services.

“Our investigation found links to individuals associated with the US military,” the report’s conclusion reads. “Although the perpetrators of this operation attempted to conceal their identities and coordination,”

Andy Carvin, managing editor of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, a US think tank, told the BBC when the campaign was first made public that launching such a campaign would be “ineffective and counterproductive” for democracies because it would mean employing “the very tactics used by your adversaries” and “further eroding public trust.”

The news released by Meta supports earlier information published by the Washington Post. According to sources who spoke to the newspaper, concern over the operation prompted the Pentagon to conduct “a sweeping audit” of the way the US military engaged in covert information warfare.

A news report was informed by the US Department of Defense that it was “aware of the report published by Meta.”

“At this time, we do not have any additional comments on the report or any potential departmental actions that may be taken in response to the report,” it continued.