Meta Warns of Rising Chinese Influence in Covert Campaigns Ahead of Elections

Meta’s Quarterly Threats Report Highlights China’s Growing Role in Disinformation Campaigns and the Potential Impact of Generative Artificial Intelligence

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Meta’s latest quarterly report on adversarial threats reveals a growing risk of covert influence and disinformation campaigns originating from China. According to the report, only Russia and Iran rank higher than China in coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB) campaigns, which involve the use of fake user accounts and other methods to manipulate public debate for strategic goals.

During the third quarter, Meta disrupted three CIB networks, two linked to China and one to Russia. The larger Chinese operation required the removal of 4,780 Facebook accounts. The report details how the individuals behind the Chinese CIB network used basic fake accounts posing as Americans to post consistent content across various platforms.

The report emphasizes the potential supercharging of disinformation campaigns through advances in generative artificial intelligence. While Meta hasn’t seen evidence of generative AI being used by known covert influence operations for hack-and-leak claims, it warns of the challenges this technology poses in spreading disinformation.

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Meta notes the shift in CIB campaigns towards the use of various online platforms like Medium, Reddit, and Quora instead of centralizing activity in one place. This trend is attributed to larger platforms increasing pressure on threat actors, prompting them to utilize smaller sites with the hope of facing less scrutiny.

As upcoming elections worldwide may turn China into a political talking point, Meta anticipates a pivot by China-based influence operations to attempt to influence related debates. The report also mentions the likelihood of Russian attempts to interfere in debates related to support for Ukraine.

Meta acknowledges the role of generative AI in scaling potentially violating content and emphasizes the need for corresponding defenses to scale. The report mentions the pause in threat sharing by the U.S. federal government related to foreign election interference since July, urging the defender community to prepare for a larger volume of synthetic content in the upcoming elections.