Enormous embarrassment was faced by Facebook for becoming a tool for 2014 US election medelling and since then Facebook and other social media portals have pledged to avoid any such mishap this year. In a series of reports published by Graphika, also a investigative partner of Facebook to bring down disinformation campaigns that are increasingly becoming an effective tool for informal cyber warfare led by state and non-state actors.
Interestingly all the disinformation campaigns busted by Graphika were not of the same nature and magnitude. As per Graphika, at least 70countries worldwide are affected from disinformation campaigns.
The agency started publishing its investigative findings since September,2019. The first investigative report published by Graphika was on the China-Hong-Kong protests wherein the investigators identified a network of Cross-Platform Spam elements targeting Hong-Kong protestors. As per the report published, it was a cross-platform political spam network in Chinese that boosted attacks on the Hong Kong protesters by using hijacked or fake accounts on YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook so as to amplify the Chinese government narrative over the protestors.
The second report by the agency revealed that Internet Research Agency (IRA)”, the Russian “troll farm” was apparently trying to polarise the US audience just before Elections by posting content through 50 instagram accounts on serious issues that largely were in favour of Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump and attacked Joe Biden,Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren especialliy in swing Sates as Florida.
Then there were other cases where operators leaked US-UK trade documents in order to impact the political situation in UK similar to the “Secondary Infektion” operation. Bots were identified to be run by a Epoch Media Group That Used Mass AI-Generated Profiles portraying large-scalecoordinated and masked as fake American entities the association of which was made to Vietnamese assets that were linked to TheBL and to EMG.
A major misinformation campaign was also exposed functioning from India that apparently aimed at serving the interests of Middle Eastern state Qatar against the rivals Saudi Arabia and UAE. As per the report the operation as cross-platform but could not gauge much traction from the targeting audience.
The most recent was a report jointly published by CNN, Twitter, Facebook, Graphika, and two professors from Clemson University exposed a cross-platform influence operation on social media that was run from Ghana but targeted black communities in the United States. The operation was executed by Ghanaian NGO ostensibly focused on human rights but as per the reports the people executing were not even aware about the objective of the operation and it roots to Russia.
Graphika is working closely with social media agencies to deliver such reports in the coming months. The nature of these busted campaigns clearly suggest that they were run by state actors in a formal of informal cyber warfare to bend and mend Geo-political perceptions on serious concerns.