Meta Confirms US Military-Linked Propaganda Campaign

In a blog post on Tuesday, Meta confirmed a US military-linked propaganda campaign was taking place on Facebook.

Meta Confirms US Military-Linked Propaganda Campaign 1

According to the most recent adversarial threat report released this week by the company, Facebook’s parent firm Meta has admitted the discovery of multiple clusters of fake identities and pages thought to be connected to people “associated with the US military.”

“Although the people behind this operation attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the US military,” the company said in a blog post on Tuesday.

In total, Meta removed 39 Facebook and 26 Instagram accounts, as well as 16 pages and two groups, after the influence effort was uncovered earlier this year. This was done in response to a violation of the company’s policy on “coordinated inauthentic behaviour.”

The major Russian social networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, as well as other key internet platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and Telegram, were all involved in the massive operation, the social media behemoth acknowledged. It seemingly attempted to downplay the discovery by insisting that the “majority of this operation’s posts had little to no engagement from authentic communities” and highlighting similar “deceptive campaigns” by China and Russia.

The Pentagon was forced to conduct a “sweeping audit of how it conducts clandestine information warfare” after a number of social media accounts that its operatives used to target foreign audiences in complex psychological warfare efforts were exposed, according to a bombshell investigation by the Washington Post. Meta’s acknowledgement supports this claim.

Researchers at Graphika and the Stanford Internet Observatory, who back in August published a paper about online networks supposedly pushing “pro-Western,” “anti-Russia,” and other politicised narratives, were the ones who first brought attention to the takedown of the influence network.

The combatant command that manages forces in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, known as US CENTCOM, “is among those whose activities are facing scrutiny” for its influence operations, according to two officials who spoke to the Washington Post after the original study, which did not assign blame for the fake accounts to any particular actors.

When asked at the time if any of the suspect accounts were made by its employees or contractors, CENTCOM declined to answer, but one official asserted that such action would “absolutely be a violation of doctrine and training practices.”

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