Facebook removed 500 fake Covid-19 claims by China and anti-US propaganda accounts.

Meta parent company also took down several Instagram accounts thought to have been around 100 that were associated with the propaganda network. 

Menlo Park’s company, which is headquartered in California, didn’t directly link the network with the Chinese government. It did note that employees of Chinese state-run businesses and country’s media worked together to amplify the false claims. These misleading statements became the focus of Chinese news stories. 

In July, Wilson Edwards (a self-confessed Swiss biologist) created a Facebook account. 

On the same day, the user of an account claimed without supporting evidence that US officials had used intimidation and enormous pressure to convince scientists to accept renewed calls for investigation into the virus’ origin.   

In a matter of hours hundreds of accounts, some created that very day, started liking, commenting and linking to this post. Many accounts later proved to be fraudulent. Some of them posed as Westerners, while others used likely fake profile photos. 

Facebook has removed 500 accounts used by China to spread fake 'Swiss biologist' Wilson Edwards Covid-19 claims and anti-US propaganda

Facebook deleted 500 accounts belonging to China that had been used by China in spreading fake claims of ‘Swiss Biologist’ Wilson Edwards Covid-19 and anti-US propaganda 

Facebook said employees of Chinese state-run companies, and the country's state-run media, worked to amplify the misleading claims, which were soon the subject of news headlines in China (pictured, headlines in The People's Daily, China Daily, and CGTN television channel)

Facebook claimed that employees from Chinese state-run businesses and country’s media worked together to amplify misleading claims. These headlines were quickly covered in China’s news (images: headlines in The People’s Daily and China Daily and CGTN TV channel).

According to Ben Nimmo (who leads the investigations at Meta into the disinformation of Facebook and Instagram), “In effect, it worked as an online hall-of-mirrors, endlessly reflecting its original fake persona, and its anti US disinformation,”

Facebook stated that it had found connections between these accounts and Chengdu’s tech firm, as well to employees overseas of Chinese infrastructure companies.

Within one week of posting the original post, China’s major media outlets began reporting about the US claims of intimidation.

When the Swiss announced that Edwards was dead, it exposed the operation. “If you’re still around, we would love to see you!” Tweeted the Swiss Embassy in Beijing.

The Swiss biologist claimed, without evidence, that US officials were using 'enormous pressure and even intimidation' to get scientists to back calls for renewed investigations into the origin of the virus (pictured, Wuhan Institute of Virology)

Without evidence, the Swiss biologist claimed that US officials used ‘enormous force and intimidation’ in order to persuade scientists to support renewed calls for investigations into the source of the virus. (Picture: Wuhan Institute of Virology).


China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that in the past the government doesn’t use tricks on social media. 

Unfortunately, Wednesday was not the day that attempts were made to get in touch with the companies listed in the report.

Facebook discovered fake accounts associated with the network, which had also entered US politics last year. Some posted memes attacking and supporting ex-President Donald Trump. 

On Instagram, one post called Edwards ‘the worst President ever’. Another group responsible for the attempt created Twitter accounts, and Twitter has suspended Edwards’ account.

Nimmo claimed that the network could be easily detected by its ingenious tactics. Multiple fake accounts were sending out similar posts at the same time, which is a sign of co-ordination. 

An additional person, who appears to be working for the network, posted instructions on how to repost the claim. Facebook determined that this was likely an error.

Facebook uncovered fake accounts affiliated with the network that had also waded into US politics last year, with some posting memes that both attacked and supported ex-President Donald Trump

Facebook found fake accounts linked to the network. These fake accounts were also involved in US politics, some of which posted memes supporting and attacking ex-President Donald Trump.

Bret Schafer is the head of the Information Manipulation Team at Alliance for Securing Democracy in Washington. He said that China’s disinformation networks are always haphazard.

Facebook has discovered that Chinese influence campaigns are being developed, and not Russia. Russia spent many decades creating disinformation campaigns targeting unwitting Americans online, but this network was found by Facebook.

Schafer stated that it didn’t take too long to unravel this. “The Chinese still do things a little slower than they used to. This is not something I could imagine Russians doing. They create an entire persona.