Meta reveals how China-based network targeted India, Punjab and global Sikh community on Facebook and Instagram : The Tribune India

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Meta reveals how China-based network targeted India, Punjab and global Sikh community on Facebook and Instagram

The network also targeted multiple services like Telegram and X, formerly Twitter

Meta reveals how China-based network targeted India, Punjab and global Sikh community on Facebook and Instagram

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock



Ajay Banerjee

New Delhi, May 31  

In a revelation on how China was meddling in Indian and Sikh affairs, social media giant Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has said a network originating in China targeted global Sikh community, including in Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, the UK and Nigeria.

The Meta quarterly report of May 2024 said: “We removed 37 Facebook accounts, 13 Pages (on FB), five Groups, and nine accounts on Instagram for violating our policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

This activity also targeted multiple services like Telegram and X (formerly Twitter). It included several clusters of fake accounts, including one with links to an unattributed coordinated inauthentic behavior from this group in China targeting India and the Tibet region that we disrupted in early 2023, the report said.

BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar posted on X: “It is absolutely clear and obvious that BJP was and is the target of influence operations, misinformation and foreign interference, being done by and/or on behalf of some Indian political parties”.

“This is very dangerous threat to our democracy. It is clear vested interests in India and outside are clearly driving this and needs to be deeply scrutinised, investigated and exposed,” Chandrasekhar said, adding that the report could have been released much earlier, and not so late when elections are ending.

The Meta in its report said: “This operation used compromised and fake accounts – some of which were detected and disabled by our automated systems prior to our investigation – to pose as Sikhs, post content and manage pages and groups”.

The posts were primarily in English and Hindi about news and current events, including images likely to have been manipulated by photo editing tools or generated by artificial intelligence, in addition to posts about floods in the Punjab region, the Sikh community worldwide, the Khalistan independence movement, the assassination of pro-Khalistan Hardeep Singh Nijjar in Canada, and criticism of the Indian Government.

“We found this activity as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour in the region,” the report said.

It said these groups appeared to have created a fictitious activist movement called 'Operation K' which called for pro-Sikh protests, including in New Zealand and Australia.

“We found and removed this activity early, before it was able to build an audience among authentic communities,” Meta said.

Some of these clusters amplified one another with most of their engagement coming from their own fake accounts, likely to make this campaign appear more popular than it was.

About 2,700 accounts on social media followed one or more of these Pages, about 1,300 accounts joined one or more of these Groups, and under 100 accounts followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.

Sources in the Indian security agencies said so far, Pakistani social media accounts did such targeting of Sikhs, the work being done by China is the first, or could be even a joint China-Pakistan operation. 

 

#Australia #Canada #China #Facebook #Instagram #Meta #New Zealand #Pakistan #Sikhs #Social Media #Twitter


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