Meta has found a network of fake accounts across its social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. The accounts that are tied to individuals associated with the US military target audiences in Afghanistan and Central Asia and promote a pro-US narrative, according to a report.
Meta claims to have removed around three-dozen Facebook accounts and two-dozen Instagram accounts that violated the respective platform’s policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour.
This comes after the Pentagon opened a review in September into the units that engage in online influence operations, include the US Central Command. It had ordered an audit of clandestine information warfare when the operation was initially disclosed in August in a joint investigation by Stanford Internet Observatory and Graphika, a social media intelligence company.
A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that they are aware of Meta’s report but did not suggest if potential actions would be taken.
A joint study that was published in August stated that the campaigns promoted pro-Western narratives that were not a one-time operation which lasted for nearly five years. It said the campaigns consistently advanced narratives promoting the interests of the United States and its allies, while opposing countries including China, Russia and Iran.
The report said Afghanistan-related posts surged during periods of strategic importance for the United States, including months prior to the US military’s withdrawal from the war-torn country in August 2021.
“The accounts heavily criticized Russia in particular for the deaths of innocent civilians and other atrocities its soldiers committed in pursuit of Kremlin’s “imperial ambitions” following its invasion of Ukraine in February this year,” the study said.
It revealed that the fake accounts sometimes shared news articles from US government-funded media outlets and US military-sponsored websites to further propagate their contents.
Gavin Wilde, a senior scholar at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said this prevalent in military circles as the only way to lose is not to play in the information domain. He outlined that if their methodology gambles away the transparency and credibility the U.S will be questioned.