Networks of fake Facebook accounts run from China are "evolving" and adopting new tactics in their quest to sow discord overseas, the social media platform told Australian lawmakers Tuesday (July 11).
Fronting a Senate inquiry into foreign interference, officials from parent company Meta said there had been a noticeable "shift in tactics" by China-based networks over the past seven months.
Meta spokesman Josh Machin said co-ordinated networks of Chinese Facebook accounts were increasingly trying to influence public opinion by targeting journalists, charities and public relations firms.
"We are seeing a whole new range of tactics evolving," Machin told the inquiry.
Meta recently removed dozens of Facebook accounts belonging to a China-based network waging a co-ordinated disinformation campaign in Europe.
Takedown in May
The networks originated in China and targeted social media users in many regions, including in the United States, Europe, India, Tibet, Taiwan, sub-Saharan Africa, Japan, Central Asia and the Uighur community around the world.
"The latest behaviours included creating a front media company in the West, hiring freelance writers around the world, offering to recruit protesters and co-opting an NGO in Africa," it said.
On Twitter, an account named in the Meta report called New Europe Observation shared incendiary content attacking migrants to Europe and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) activists.
One tweet by the group from last August said it was hiring "part-timers" to attend a protest in Hungary against billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a financier who is frequently a target of far-right conspiracy theories.
Some of its Twitter posts used viral tweets from far-right accounts.
Interspersed with the Europe-focused messaging was content pushing Beijing's line on its policies in China's Xinjiang region.
Beijing has detained more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim, Turkic-speaking inhabitants of the far-western Xinjiang region in a secretive network of detention centres and prisons over the past few years.
Accusations include mass incarceration, forced labour, compulsory sterilisation, systematic rape and the destruction of Uighur cultural and Islamic sites.