Meta scrubbed a fake scientist's account that spread bogus COVID-19 claims

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Dec 1, 2021 | CYBERSCOOP

On July 24, 2021 a Swiss biologist, Wilson Edwards, claimed on Facebook and Twitter that the United States was pressuring the World Health Organization to blame the origin of COVID-19 on the Chinese government.

Within an hour, Chinese officials were promoting the message on social media, using the apparent claim to turn public opinion against the U.S. after China attracted scrutiny for reportedly rejected further investigation into the origins of the virus.

But Wilson Edwards wasn’t real, the Swiss Embassy in Beijing announced on Twitter on Aug. 10.

Instead, the ruse was a part of an elaborate coordinated campaign based in China to discredit the U.S., researchers at Meta, which is owned by Facebook, revealed in a report out Wednesday.

What researchers found was a “hall of mirrors,” Ben Nimmo, global information operations threat intelligence lead at Facebook, said in the report.

In total, Facebook removed 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four Groups and 86 Instagram accounts a part of the network. The network targeted primarily English-speaking audiences in the U.S. and U.K., with Chinese state infrastructure companies sharing the posts.

The fake accounts all followed a similar posting pattern.

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