Facebook brought down an international network of vaccine misinformation that had operated in an organized manner in Russia since November 2020, with the aim of spreading false news about the vaccines in Russia. AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
The spread of suspicious posts were in specific regions of the world, including Brazil. The information was revealed this Tuesday (10), in the Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report, a document published monthly by the company.
In all, 65 Facebook accounts and 243 Instagram accounts were removed, all linked to the marketing company Fazze, with registration in the UK and operations in Russia. According to the technology company's report, the target was users from India, Brazil, other countries in Latin America and, to a lesser extent, the United States.
Fazze was banned from the group's social networks for violating the policy against foreign interference from the platform, that is, when one country tries to manipulate the public debate of another region. With that, Facebook could fall under “coordinated inauthentic behavior”, which are “coordinated efforts to manipulate public debate to a strategic end, where fake accounts are central to the operation”.
The disinformation campaign started on popular forums in the Internet (Reddit and Medium, for example) and moving to the creation of fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram, with the misleading content reflected on social media to unsuspecting users.
At another time, influential people on social networks were used to amplify the lies, helped by Fazze, offering access to these personalities with many followers.
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“Operations are increasingly looking to use authentic influential voices to convey their messages. Through them, deceptive campaigns gain access to the influencer's target audience, but this comes with a significant risk of exposure,” Facebook said in a report.
From November to December 2020, the vaccines from AstraZeneca were the target of false news that the immunizing agent would turn people into chimpanzees and still bringing images from the movie Planet of the Apes to supposedly exemplify the effect of the doses.
After five months, it was Pfizer's turn, which went viral because it supposedly had the highest death rate than other vaccines. Furthermore, hashtags published on the platforms were in Hindi, English, Spanish and Portuguese.
In addition, around 24 accounts followed one or more disinformation profiles on Instagram. So much so that for Facebook, this was a low-range fake news operation, as it was not successful, as it generated little engagement.