Facebook says it’s removing accounts targeting Vietnamese activists

FILE PHOTO: Woman holding smartphone with Facebook logo in front of Facebook Meta's new rebranding logo in this illustration
FILE PHOTO: Woman holding smartphone with Facebook logo in front of new Facebook Meta rebranding logo in this illustration photo taken October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

December 1, 2021

By James Pearson

(Reuters) – Facebook has removed a network of accounts from its platform that it says targeted Vietnamese activists who were critical of the country’s government, said an official at Meta, its parent company. of Facebook said Wednesday.

In July, the company removed a Vietnam Facebook group called “E47,” which mobilized members to report posts they disliked to Facebook, in an effort to take them down.

According to David Agranovich, Facebook’s head of global threat disruption, the latest action was taken against a separate group.

“What we see is a network of accounts in Vietnam that have engaged in coordinated targeting by activists and others openly critical of the Vietnamese government,” Agranovich told Reuters.

The attackers used Facebook accounts to send “hundreds or thousands of reports” against their targets using Facebook’s built-in reporting tools, Agranovich said.

“Many of the operators will use fake accounts, which they will use as their target, and then they will report the target’s real account as the impostor account,” he said. he added.

Some accounts have publicly offered to take down other Facebook accounts as a commercial service, according to Agranovich.

“They basically advertise this kind of abuse reporting service in their actual bios,” he said.

Unlike in neighboring China, Facebook is not blocked in Vietnam, which has about 70 million users and is the country’s main platform for e-commerce.

However, it has also become a major platform for dissent, leaving Facebook and the government in constant trouble over the removal of content deemed “anti-state”.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which handles government requests from foreign media, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Martin Petty and Angus MacSwan) Facebook says it’s removing accounts targeting Vietnamese activists

Caroline Bleakley

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