Facebook takes down Chinese, Philippine networks due to 'coordinated inauthentic behavior'
Facebook said it linked those behind the Philippine network to the military and the police while the Chinese network posted about several topics including content supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte and Sarah Duterte’s potential run in the 2022 Presidential election.
AFP
Facebook takes down Chinese, Philippine networks due to 'coordinated inauthentic behavior'
Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - September 23, 2020 - 11:09am

MANILA, Philippines — Facebook on Tuesday announced that it removed two networks of accounts, pages and groups from its platform for violating its rules on coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity. 

Facebook's Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher in a blog post said one of these networks originated in China and the other in the Philippines. The social media company added that it was able to link those behind the Philippine network to the military and the police. 

"In each case, the people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts as a central part of their operations to mislead people about who they are and what they are doing, and that was the basis for our action," Gleicher said. 

He added that Faebook focuses on behavior rather than content when conducting investigations of this nature. 

Facebook says Philippine network linked to military, police

Facebook found that network operating in the Philippines "consisted of several clusters of connected activity that relied on fake accounts to evade enforcement, post content, comment and manage Pages." Gleicher said the operation accelerated between 2019 and 2020. 

The social media company said the network posted in both English and Filipino about local news which included the following topics: 

  • domestic politics
  • military activities against terrorism
  • pending anti-terrorism bill
  • criticism of communism
  • youth activists and opposition
  • the Communist Party of the Philippines and its military wing the New People’s Army
  • the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

Gleicher further quantified the operation's social media presence at 57 Facebook accounts, 31 Facebook pages and 20 accounts on Ingstagram. 

"About 276,000 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and about 5,500 people followed one of more of these Instagram accounts," Facebook's report shows. 

In addition to this, it revealed the network spent around US$ 1,100 on Facebook ads. 

"Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to Philippine military and Philippine police," Gleicher said. 

"We removed 155 accounts, 11 Pages, 9 Groups and 6 Instagram accounts for violating our policy against foreign or government interference which is coordinated inauthentic behavior on behalf of a foreign or government entity," he added. 

Sample of content posted by the Philippine network taken down by Facebook. 

'Chinese network focused mainly on the Philippines, Southeast Asia' 

Meanwhile, the social media company said the Chinese network it took down "focused primarily on the Philippines and Southeast Asia more broadly, and also on the United States." 

Facebook said the network operated similarly to the Philippine network but posted and commented "particularly about naval activity in the South China Sea, including US Navy ships." 

Gleicher said the network "posted in Chinese, Filipino and English about global news and current events," including the following: 

  • content supportive of President Rodrigo Duterte and Sarah Duterte’s potential run in the 2022 presidential election
  • Beijing’s interests in the South China Sea
  • criticism of Rappler, an independent news organization in the Philippines
  • praise and some criticism of China
  • issues relevant to the overseas Filipino workers
  • Hong Kong
  • content both in support of and against American presidential candidates Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden and Donald Trump
Sample of content posted by the Chinese network taken down by Facebook.

"Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to individuals in the Fujian province of China," Gleicher said. 

He also noted that the network focused the least on, and gained almost no following from, America. 

The network's overall presence on social media was also listed in the post as 155 Facebook accounts, 11 Pages, and six Instagram accounts. 

Facebook said the operation had about 133,00 accounts following its pages, 61,000 people who joined one or more of its Groups and around 150 accounts which followed one or more of its Instagram accounts. 

The network also spent US$ 60 in advertising, the social media company revealed. 

CHINA DISINFORMATION FACEBOOK SOCIAL MEDIA
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