Meta recently published its Adversarial Threat Report for the second quarter of 2022 which covers multiple policy violations within its platforms including Coordinated Inauthentic Behaviour (CIB). Interesting enough, one of the CIB operations that were highlighted in the new report is a troll farm in Malaysia.
By definition, CIB is essentially a concerted effort to mislead the public through the usage of predominantly fake accounts, Pages, and Groups. As noted in this explainer video, the information published by these accounts, Pages, and Groups may not be false or go against Meta’s policies but they were removed from the company’s platform for not being who they claimed to be.
In the report, Meta noted that the troll farm was discovered after some of its activities were highlighted by researchers at Clemson University who originally thought that it originated in China. The company has since removed 596 Facebook accounts, 180 Pages, 11 Groups, and 72 Instagram accounts.
Meta also pointed out that the farm also operated on TikTok and Twitter. The report also noted how the troll farm is rather political in nature as the accounts, Pages, and Groups activities mainly revolved around memes in Bahasa Malaysia that depicts support toward the current government while at the same time claiming that there is corruption among its critics.
The company further said some of these Pages posed as independent news organisations and there are also other Pages that praise the police while denouncing the opposition. Prior to their removal, Meta said that around 427,000 accounts have followed these Pages while the Groups have 4,000 members and the farm’s Instagram accounts have 15,000 followers.
The most shocking revelation made by the report is that the investigation made by the company showed the troll farm has links to Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM). Not only that, the farm has also spent around RM26,724 (USD6,000) for advertisements on Facebook and Instagram.
That is one massive claim and we predict will trigger a response from PDRM. Hence, we don’t think that this will be over anytime soon especially given the current climate within the local political scene that apparently already gearing up for the next general election.
(Source: Meta [pdf].)