7,704 Facebook accounts.
So many profiles are connected to a widespread “spamouflage” network that Meta claims has removed from its platform. Spammouflage is a term used by researchers in China to describe online disinformation campaigns and other propaganda.
In addition to the more than 7,700 Facebook accounts, Meta also removed 954 Facebook pages, 15 Facebook groups and 15 Instagram accounts that were part of the operation. The company detailed its actions in its Q2 Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report, which read Approved on Tuesday.
The report on this network contains some interesting features. On the one hand, according to Meta, it is assumed that this particular spamming campaign has been running since 2018. This means that this disinformation campaign has been going on for around five years and has so far gone largely undetected by the platform. Although Meta mentions that it discovered connections between the network and clusters of others that it had previously removed from the platform.
Additionally, according to Meta, the company found links between the spamming campaign and “people associated with Chinese law enforcement.” Meta did not elaborate on these links in this report.
In total, the network has around 560,000 followers. However, Meta said the vast majority of its followers appeared to be fake or inauthentic accounts, likely purchased by “spam operators.” According to the report, the content released by the network did not garner significant response.
Meta also shared that the network spent a total of around $3,500 on ad campaigns on Facebook.
This particular spamming campaign also extended well beyond Meta’s platforms. The report listed the accounts that were part of the network on YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, Medium, Quora, Blogspot, Vimeo, LiveJournal, Tumblr and X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Meta regularly shares its findings on disabling large networks with inauthentic accounts on its platforms. It was last September detailed a first: A China-based network targeting US domestic politics. This most recent network continued to share similar content, ranging from topics such as COVID-19 to the Nord Stream pipeline bombing.