COVID-19

Facebook shut down virulent anti-vaccine groups

Facebook continues its fight against health misinformation. Meta, its parent company, announced on Wednesday, December 1, that it had dismantled several malicious networks that focused their action on the vaccine, without hesitating to harass professionals. According to Mike Dvilyanski, director of research on emerging threats for the US group, members of these networks “insulted doctors, journalists and elected officials”, sometimes treating them as “supporters of the Nazis” because of their pro-vaccine commitments. According to them, “mandatory vaccination would lead to a health dictatorship.”

According to Mike Dvilyanski, the network was called “V_V” and it was carrying out a campaign of intimidation and mass harassment against prominent figures in health, the media and politics in Italy and France. The perpetrators of this operation were coordinated in particular through the Telegram messaging system, where volunteers had access to lists of people to target and “training” to avoid automatic detection by Facebook. Their tactics included leaving comments below victims’ messages instead of posting content, and using slightly modified spellings such as “vaxcinati” instead of “vaccinati,” which means “vaccinated people” in Italian.

READ ALSOUnited States: Facebook, Google and Twitter summoned for disinformation

An “expanding populist movement”

The social media giant said it was difficult to assess the reach and impact of the campaign, which ran across different platforms. “We have observed what appears to be an expanding populist movement that combines existing conspiracy theories with anti-authoritarian narratives and a torrent of disinformation about health,” detail experts from Graphika, a company specializing in social media analysis, in a report on this operation. . .

READ ALSOFacebook suspends accounts of researchers investigating disinformation

Meta also said it dismantled another operation orchestrated from China, which used fake accounts to promote false information. They amplified messages posted on the profile of a made-up Swiss biologist who reportedly reported that the United States was pressuring the World Health Organization to blame China for the coronavirus.

Chinese state media later cited this bogus biologist. “It was like a gallery of mirrors, ceaselessly reflecting a single false personality,” Meta said in a statement. The Californian group has found links between the operation and employees of the Chinese cybersecurity company Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co., as well as individuals associated with other Chinese companies specializing in infrastructure around the world.

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