Meta Exposes Mammoth Chinese Influence Network

meta exposes mammoth chinese influence network.jpg Technology

In a stunning revelation, Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has announced the dismantling of the world’s largest known online covert influence operation. Aimed at promoting China’s interests and undermining its adversaries, the campaign spanned across multiple platforms, including YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, and X (formerly Twitter), with around 7,700 Facebook and Instagram accounts linked to the operation. Despite its extensive reach, Meta assured that the campaign, known as "Spamouflage" within the security community, has been largely unsuccessful since its inception in 2019.

The operation, reportedly linked to individuals associated with Chinese law enforcement, was designed to disseminate positive commentary about China while criticizing the U.S. and western foreign policies. The operators, scattered across China, were primarily detected and thwarted by Meta’s automated systems. This detection, according to Meta, likely prompted the culprits to resort to smaller platforms to amplify their content. Despite these attempts, Meta claims the network failed to gain significant traction within authentic online communities.

Meta Platforms Breaks Up Largest Known Covert Online Operation

Meta Platforms recently announced that it has dismantled the world’s largest known covert online operation. The operation was primarily aimed at promoting China’s interests and discrediting its opponents, including the United States.

Operation Spamouflage

In a report published on Tuesday, Meta revealed that despite involving thousands of accounts across more than 50 apps, the campaign was unsuccessful. This operation, known as “Spamouflage” in the security community, has been active since 2019 and is linked to individuals connected with Chinese law enforcement. The operation utilized about 7,700 of its own Facebook and Instagram accounts, along with platforms like YouTube, TikTok, Reddit, Pinterest, and X, the former Twitter.

The China network was reported to push positive commentary about China and criticisms of the U.S. and western foreign policies. The operators, scattered across China, were largely detected and disabled by Meta’s automated systems. This likely resulted in posting on smaller platforms and attempting to amplify the content to larger services.

Limited Engagement and Denials

Despite the vast network, Meta states there is no evidence of substantial engagement among genuine communities on their services. Although broad denial of such disinformation campaigns targeting the U.S. has been issued by the Chinese government, they have not addressed Meta’s allegations or actions specifically.

Ongoing Efforts to Counter Disinformation

This takedown marks Meta’s seventh action against China over the past six years. Other global campaigns have also recently been disrupted, including the Doppelganger operation from Russia, which aimed to weaken support for Ukraine by its allies.

Coordinated campaigns designed to sway public opinion have come under increasing scrutiny by Meta and other social platforms, following the identification of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

However, covert social media campaigns present a constant challenge for platform operators, with operators continually refining their methods to evade detection. Ben Nimmo, global threat intelligence lead at Meta, suggests that the focus on volume over audience building indicates that the ultimate target may be the paycheck rather than influencing social media users.


This latest move by Meta demonstrates the ongoing challenge that social media platforms face in combating disinformation campaigns. The scale of these operations indicates the significant resources behind them, and their continued existence despite their limited success suggests that the battle against disinformation is far from over. It is clear that these platforms must continue to evolve and adapt their strategies to counter these threats effectively.

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