Meta report alleges individuals linked to Malaysian Police ran ‘troll farm’ to manipulate public opinion

In a newly released report Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, alleged that several individuals linked to the Malaysian police were behind a network of social media pages and accounts that tried to covertly influence the public.

In its Quarterly Adversarial Threat report released yesterday, Meta said the individuals behind this network ran a troll farm — a concerted effort by co-located operators to taint or influence public discourse by using fake accounts and deceiving people about who is behind them. 

The report says the group was active across a number of social media platform, including Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram, and posted memes in Malay in support of the current government coalition as well as claims of corruption among its critics.

“We found this network after reviewing information about a small portion of this activity initially

 suspected to have originated in China by researchers at Clemson University.”  

“Although the people behind it attempted to conceal their identity and coordination, our investigation found links to the Royal Malaysia Police,” the report said, although it did not offer more details as to what exactly those links were. 

Meta says it took down 596 Facebook accounts, 180 Pages, 11 Groups and 72 Instagram accounts linked to the group for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behavior (CIB)

“We view CIB as coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal, in which fake accounts are central to the operation. In each case, people coordinate with one another and use  fake accounts to mislead others about who they are and what they are doing.” 

“When we investigate and remove these operations, we focus on behavior rather than content — no matter who’s behind them, what they post, or whether they’re foreign or domestic,” it said. 

The report said about 427,000 FB accounts followed one or more of the networks pages, while around 4,000 accounts joined one or more of its groups, and about 15,000 accounts followed one or more of its Instagram accounts.

Meta also said the network spent around RM26,740 (US$6,000) to run ads on Facebook and Instagram, which was paid for primarily in ringgit.

The Royal Malaysia Police have not yet issued a response to Meta’s allegations.

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