New Delhi: Facebook owner Meta Platforms has removed more than 500 accounts linked to an online disinformation network, primarily based in China, BBC reported.
The accounts had promoted the claims of a fake Swiss biologist called “Wilson Edwards”, who alleged the US was meddling in efforts to find the origins of Covid-19.
Edwards’ comments had been widely carried by Chinese state media outlets.
However, the Swiss embassy said that it was unlikely this person existed, the report said.
Meta said in its report the social media campaign was “largely unsuccessful,” and targeted English-speaking audiences in the US and the UK and Chinese-speaking audiences in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Tibet.
Earlier in July, an account posing as a Swiss biologist called Wilson Edwards had made statements on Facebook and Twitter that the US was applying pressure on the World Health Organisation scientists who were studying the origins of Covid-19 in an attempt to blame the virus on China, the report said.
State media outlets, including CGTN, Shanghai Daily and Global Times, had cited the so-called biologist based on his Facebook profile.
Meta Platforms said that its investigation into the matter found “links to individuals in mainland China, including employees of Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co Ltd… and individuals associated with Chinese state infrastructure companies based around the world”.
Sichuan Silence Information’s website describes the company as a network and information security company that provides technical support to China’s Ministry of Public Security and CNCERT, the key team that coordinates China’s cybersecurity emergency response.
Facebook said it had removed a total of 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four groups and 86 Instagram accounts after reviewing public reports that centred around the fake Swiss biologist, the report said.