HK protests: Facebook removes China-based fake accounts

San Francisco: Facebook has removed seven Pages, three Groups and five accounts originated in China and involved in posting fake news pertaining to the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

The individuals behind this campaign engaged in a number of deceptive tactics, including the use of fake accounts -- some of which had been already disabled -- to manage Pages posing as news organisations, post in Groups, disseminate their content, and also drive people to off-platform news sites.

"About 15,500 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and about 2,200 accounts joined at least one of these Groups," Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy at Facebook, said in a blog post late Monday.

"Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government," he added.

Based on a tip shared by Twitter about activity they found on their platform, Facebook conducted an internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour in the region and identified the malicious accounts.

Earlier, users on the social bookmarking website Pinboard slammed China-backed advertisements being run on Twitter, attacking Hong Kong protesters.

The ads try to portray the protests as "escalating violence" and call for "order to be restored," Engadget reported.

Since June, Hong Kong has been rocked by a wave of protests because of the extradition bill, which would have enabled fugitives to be extradited from Hong Kong to mainland China.

A mass rally in Hong Kong on Sunday, widely deemed the most important so far this month, attracted tens of thousands of people as the crisis entered the 11th consecutive weekend of anti-government protests.

The recent wave of anti-government protests has prompted widespread criticism of the police for their alleged brutality against protesters.

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