Meta, the parent company behind Facebook and Instagram recently released their latest Adversarial Threat Report for the year, which details the risks and policy violations that they’re seeing worldwide.
In the lengthy report, Meta highlighted something that has something intriguing, especially for Malaysians.
According to Meta, it has identified and removed close to 1,000 Malaysian-based Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups across its social network platforms for violating the policy against “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” (CIB).
CIB is defined by Meta as a coordinated effort to ‘manipulate public debate for a strategic goal’ and includes using fake accounts on its social media platforms. They will then work on getting these fake accounts to mislead other people, However, Meta said that the content isn’t really the focus here, but rather the behaviour of these accounts.
Malaysia’s troll farm
In the report, Meta claimed that the suspected CIB ‘troll farm’ is allegedly linked to the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), where it had a network of at least 596 Facebook accounts, 180 Facebook pages, 11 Facebook groups, and 72 Instagram accounts, with a cumulative total of almost half a million followers.
In addition, it was found that the network was active across Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram and “posted memes in Malay in support of the current government coalition, with claims of corruption among its critics”.
On Facebook, in particular, this troll farm operation managed its pages in various ways, including pretending to be independent news companies, posting in support of the police, and criticising the opposition.
“Typically, their posting activity accelerated during weekdays, taking breaks for lunch. Their fake accounts were fairly under-developed and some of them used stolen profile pictures. Some of them were detected and disabled by our automated systems,” the report reads.
“We found this network after reviewing information about a small portion of this activity initially suspected to have originated in China by researchers at Clemson University. Although the people behind it attempted to conceal their identity and coordination, our investigation found links to the Royal Malaysian Police.”
Meanwhile, the troll farm is also said to be spending around USD6,000 (≈RM26,739) on ads to boost its presence on social media. All of this was part of a coordinated effort by co-located operators to corrupt and manipulate public discourse.
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