Fal­si­fied Face­book pages tar­get U.S. elec­tion

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - BUSINESS - JESSICA GUYNN

Face­book says it re­moved a small net­work of fake ac­counts and pages that orig­i­nated in China and fo­cused on in­flu­enc­ing the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in Novem­ber.

The ac­tiv­ity was not di­rectly linked to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment and gained al­most no fol­low­ing, the com­pany said.

Bei­jing has been ex­pand­ing its in­flu­ence op­er­a­tions ahead of the 2020 elec­tion but has not mounted an op­er­a­tion on par with Rus­sian op­er­a­tives in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion who sought to in­flame ten­sions on hot-but­ton is­sues such as race and im­mi­gra­tion.

Much of the ac­tiv­ity iden­ti­fied by Face­book fo­cused on the Philip­pines. In the U.S., the fake ac­counts posted con­tent that favoured and op­posed Don­ald Trump and his Demo­cratic chal­lenger Joe Bi­den as well as Pete But­tigieg.

Face­book said the peo­ple be­hind the net­work con­cealed their iden­tity and lo­ca­tion us­ing vir­tual pri­vate net­works and other meth­ods.

Last week, FBI di­rec­tor Christo­pher Wray told the U.S. House home­land se­cu­rity com­mit­tee hear­ing that Rus­sia re­mains “very ac­tive” in its ef­fort to sow dis­cord and dis­rupt the vote, pri­mar­ily by den­i­grat­ing Bi­den.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials warned last month that China, Rus­sia and Iran would at­tempt to in­ter­fere in the 2020 elec­tion. Af­ter Wray warned of Rus­sian elec­tion in­ter­fer­ence last week, Trump called China a “FAR greater threat than Rus­sia, Rus­sia, Rus­sia” on Twit­ter.

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