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    Meta Removes Fake Accounts for Inauthentic Behavior Targeting Global Sikh Community

    Meta has removed 37 Facebook accounts, 13 Pages, 5 Groups, and 9 Instagram accounts of Chinese origin for violating its policy against “coordinated inauthentic behavior” by targeting the global Sikh community spanning India, Pakistan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and Nigeria, stated the company’s latest Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report. The fake accounts appeared to have created a fictitious activist movement called ‘Operation K’ which called for pro-Sikh protests, in New Zealand and Australia. Meta said that these accounts likely used AI to generate poster images for this campaign.

    What activities were these fake accounts engaged in?

    According to Meta, this network consisted of a cluster of accounts participating in coordinated inauthentic behavior which it defines as “coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal, in which fake accounts are central to the operation.” These fake accounts originating in China posed as Sikhs while managing Pages and Groups. About 2,700 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 1,300 accounts joined one or more of these Groups, and under 100 accounts followed one or more of these Instagram accounts. The network even extended its campaign to Telegram and X, formerly Twitter.

    The report stated that the accounts primarily posted about news and current events in English and Hindi. In addition to these, they posted about “floods in the Punjab region, the Sikh community worldwide, the Khalistan independence movement, the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan independence activist in Canada, and criticism of the Indian government.” These posts included images likely manipulated by photo editing tools or generated by artificial intelligence. However, Meta stated that it has not seen “novel GenAI-driven tactics” that would impede their ability to “disrupt the adversarial networks behind them”. Meta claimed that these accounts were detected and disabled by their automated systems before their investigation. They also claimed that they found and removed the accounts calling for protests before they were able to “build an audience among authentic communities.”

    There have been previous instances of networks originating in China targeting communities in India. In fact, Meta observed that one of the accounts associated with the campaign targeting the Sikh population had links to a network targeting India and Tibet, which was spotted in 2023’s Adversarial Threat Reports. December 2023’s report revealed, that accounts targeting Arunachal Pradesh in India while posting positively about India also accused the Indian government of corruption and supporting ethnic violence in the Indian state of Manipur and the accounts targeting Tibet acted like pro-independence activists and accused the Dalai Lama and his followers of corruption and pedophilia.

    Similarly, a May 2023 report stated that networks shared “articles and memes that criticized the Indian government and military, questioned claims of human-rights abuses in Tibet raised by Western journalists, and accused Western countries of human rights abuses. ”

    Why it matters

    Meta’s report highlights the threat of coordinated inauthentic behavior online and its ability to reach large groups of people. While Meta states that GenAI does not significantly impact their ability to take action against these networks, we see that GenAI usage is on the rise in these circles which could evolve into a significant threat.

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    The post Meta Removes Fake Accounts for Inauthentic Behavior Targeting Global Sikh Community appeared first on MEDIANAMA.

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