Meta removes fake Chinese accounts amplifying Khalistan propaganda in Australia

"We found that the network used compromised and fake accounts to pose as Sikhs, post content, and manage Pages and Groups."

Meta has published its latest “Adversarial Threat Report,” which provides an overview of the various coordinated manipulation efforts detected and removed from Meta’s apps.

The report states that Meta has taken significant action against a network originating from China that amplified Khalistan propaganda.

Meta has removed 37 Facebook accounts, 13 Pages, five Groups, and nine Instagram accounts for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour promoting Khalistan.

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“This operation was uncovered during our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behaviour,” Meta’s report states.

“We found that the network used compromised and fake accounts to pose as Sikhs, post content, and manage Pages and Groups.”

The network targeted multiple services including Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, and X (formerly Twitter).

It consisted of several clusters of fake accounts, including one with links to an unattributed CIB network from China targeting India and the Tibet region, which Meta had previously disrupted in early 2023.

These clusters often amplified each other, with most engagement coming from their own fake accounts, likely to create the illusion of popularity.

“We detected and disabled some of these fake accounts using our automated systems even before the investigation,” the report added.

“They appeared to have created a fictitious activist movement called Operation K, calling for pro-Sikh protests in countries such as New Zealand and Australia.”

The network posted primarily in English and Hindi about news and current events. This included images likely manipulated by photo editing tools or generated by artificial intelligence, along with posts about floods in the Punjab region, the Sikh community worldwide, the Khalistan independence movement, the assassination of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a pro-Khalistan independence activist in Canada, and criticism of the Indian government.

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“We removed this activity early, before it was able to build an audience among authentic communities,” the Meta report said.

The removed accounts had a modest following: about 2,700 accounts followed one or more of the Pages, about 1,300 accounts joined one or more of the Groups, and under 100 accounts followed one or more of the Instagram accounts.

“This action underscores our commitment to safeguarding our platforms against coordinated inauthentic behaviour and protecting the integrity of discourse on our services,” the report concluded about this issue.

Image: Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar and Counsel and spokesman for Sikh’s For Justice Gurpatwant Singh Pannun

Terror organisation Khalistan Tiger Force chief Hardeep Singh Nijjar was gunned down by two unknown assailants in his car in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) had in July 2022 announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on Nijjar in the case of the killing of a Hindu priest in Jalandhar. Nijjar had ties with Pakistan and visited the country in 2013 to meet Jagtar Singh Tara, who assassinated former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, and officials of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). 

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