Facebook has cracked down on a conspiracy theorist, a Chinese-influenced company promoting false allegations made by a fictitious "Swiss biologist" that the United States was interfering in the search for the origin of Covid-19, parent company Meta said on Thursday.
The company said it had removed a network of 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four groups and 86 Instagram accounts in China, including those owned by Chinese state-owned infrastructure companies on four continents.
As part of the operation, a social media user posing as Swiss biologist Wilson Edwards claimed on Facebook and Twitter that the US was putting pressure on his scientists. World Health Organization studying the origins of Covid-19 in an attempt to blame China.
This fake account reported that "WHO sources and several fellow investigators" had complained of "enormous pressure and even intimidation" from the US on the WHO plan for a new investigation into the origin of Covid-19.
The account posted the same text three more times the next hour and then stopped posting.
Some of these authentic post-sharing profiles had similar behavioral patterns in which discreet pairs of URLs were shared as text strings without further comment.
The network that negotiates this conspiracy theory comes mainly from China, targeting the English-speaking public in the US and the UK, as well as Chinese-speaking audiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet, Meta noted.
While Facebook analysts found that there was only one fake account at the heart of the operation, the Swiss Embassy in Beijing said there was no Swiss citizen file with that name.
The researchers found that the fake account was created about 12 hours before the first post about the Covid-19 pandemic.
Further research revealed that the initial spread of the "Wilson Edwards" story on Facebook was the work of a "multifaceted influence company launched in China."
Although most of the people behind this conspiracy network tried to hide their identities and coordination, the researchers found links to people in mainland China.
Accounts linked to employees of Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co Ltd, as well as individuals linked to Chinese state-owned infrastructure companies around the world, are said to be involved.
Source of information: independent.co.uk