Meta       , the parent company of Facebook and Instagram , has taken action against a pro-China influence operation called “Spamouflage.” This operation aimed to spread disinformation and propaganda, targeting the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement , Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui , and the United States  . Meta’s efforts to disrupt foreign influence campaigns led to the removal of thousands of accounts associated with Spamouflage.
Meta recently removed over 7,700 Facebook accounts, 954 Facebook Pages, 15 Facebook Groups  , and 15 Instagram accounts linked to the pro-China influence operation known as “Spamouflage.” This operation has been active since at least 2018 and utilized tactics such as fake accounts, AI-generated content , and hashtag amplification to spread disinformation and propaganda. Initially, Spamouflage published content on major platforms like Facebook , YouTube    , and Twitter  , but has since expanded its presence on platforms such as Medium , Reddit    , Quora , and Vimeo .
Graphika , a research firm , has been tracking Spamouflage and found that it has grown in size and sophistication , increasingly using AI-generated content like deepfakes . Meta’s actions were in response to the violation of their policies on coordinated inauthentic behavior. Additionally, Meta discovered evidence linking the fake accounts to a previous influence campaign called “Spamouflage,” which also failed to gain much traction . This operation was active on more than 50 platforms and forums , including social media sites like X (formerly Twitter) , YouTube    , TikTok   , Reddit    , and Pinterest , as well as smaller platforms and forums.
Meta’s Chief Information Security Officer described Spamouflage as the largest known cross-platform covert influence operation in the world . The campaign targeted various regions worldwide , including Taiwan , the United States  , Australia  , the United Kingdom , and Japan . Most of the network’s followers were likely fake or inauthentic accounts  , potentially purchased from spam operators . Meta’s investigation revealed connections between the operation and individuals associated with Chinese law enforcement, although no further details were provided .
Meta’s findings on Spamouflage are part of their quarterly report, which also includes details on campaigns from Russia , Iran , and Turkey . It is worth noting that this is not the first China-based network targeting U.S. domestic politics that Meta has uncovered  . Despite previous failures , Meta expects the Chinese operatives to continue their efforts .
Meta’s actions against Spamouflage have had a significant impact in disrupting this pro-China influence operation. By removing thousands of accounts and exposing their tactics, Meta has mitigated the spread of disinformation and propaganda. However, the sophistication and persistence of Spamouflage highlight the ongoing challenge of foreign influence campaigns. Meta’s continued efforts and vigilance will be crucial in countering these operations and protecting the integrity of online platforms.