Facebook deletes hundreds of fake accounts for “Swiss biologists”

Meta deleted hundreds of accounts of a supposed Swiss biologist after an alleged propaganda campaign from China on social media. These had claimed that the US was interfering in the search for the origin of the pandemic.

Facebook Fake News Switzerland
Facebook Fake News Switzerland

The social media campaign was “largely unsuccessful” and was aimed at English-speaking target groups in the USA and Great Britain as well as Chinese-speaking people in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Tibet, the Reuters news agency reported on Wednesday.

The allegations of the alleged “Swiss biologist” Wilson Edwards were extensively quoted in the Chinese state media in July. In August, several Chinese newspapers removed comments and deleted articles quoting the alleged biologist. The Swiss embassy in Beijing had previously stated that it had not found any evidence that the quoted man was a Swiss citizen.ADVERTISING

Hundreds of fake social media accounts

Meta stated that Facebook removed Wilson Edwards’ account in August and has since removed 524 Facebook accounts, 20 Pages, four Group Pages and 86 Instagram accounts. Such deletions also remove the content created by these accounts, such as posts or comments.

“We were able to link the activities with people in mainland China,” a meta-responsible told Reuters. Among them were reportedly employees of a company in China, as well as some people who were in contact with Chinese state infrastructure companies around the globe. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not initially provide a statement.

Operators wanted to disguise their origins

On July 24th, ten hours after creation, the Facebook account “Wilson Edwards” uploaded a post saying that he had been informed that the US was trying to obtain the qualifications of scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO) who would work with China to investigate the origin of the coronavirus.

According to Meta, the account operators used a virtual private network (VPN) to disguise their origins. The original post was initially shared and liked from fake Facebook accounts. It was later forwarded from authentic accounts, most of which belonged to employees of Chinese infrastructure companies in over 20 countries.

The Swiss embassy intervened

“Wilson Edwards” also employed the Swiss embassy in Beijing. In August, she published a tweet in which she called on the alleged Swiss biologist to contact her – and pointed out that it was more likely to be fake news.


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