NYT Admits Facebook Wrestling with Chinese Election Hackers

September 23rd, 2020 1:35 PM

After years of blaming President Donald Trump’s 2016 victory on Russia, even liberal media outlets are starting to admit that China is attempting to meddle in our elections.

Facebook is now at war with Chinese influence on the U.S. election on its platform. The New York Times, in its September 22 article: “Facebook Takes Down Fake Pages Created in China Aimed at Influencing U.S. Election,” informed its readers that “U.S. intelligence agencies stand by their assessment that China, finding Mr. Trump mercurial and unpredictable, favors his defeat.” Facebook has noted that Chinese efforts may seem split to the untrained eye, but are united to cause chaos in America by sowing division.

The Times illustrated that while these accounts cannot be directly connected to the Chinese government yet, they are unmistakably from Chinese sources:

“Facebook said it was removing the accounts for violating its policy against ‘inauthentic behavior.’ The activity was coordinated and originated in China, though Chinese officials, including the ambassador to the United States, have denied allegations they are seeking to influence the vote in November.”

Facebook head of security Nathaniel Gleicher told The Times that these inauthentic accounts “were focused on driving division,” and that “The engagement with the U.S. was both nascent and limited. It was both supportive and critical of the major political candidates in the U.S.” The Times also made a careful distinction that while China seems to lean toward supporting Joe Biden’s bid for the presidency, their meddlers are playing both sides purely to sow chaos:

“And like Russia in the last election, even though China has a preference for Mr. Biden, it is trying to obscure its efforts by conducting operations to sow division and chaos by playing all sides of an issue.”

While some liberal outlets seem to differ on the extent of Chinese meddling, they can agree on the fact it indeed is happening. 

Even liberal news outlets have called out Twitter for allowing Chinese misinformation to run rampant on its platform. “An army of bot accounts linked to an alleged Chinese government-backed propaganda campaign is spreading disinformation on social media about coronavirus and other topics, including an exiled businessman, according to a London-based researcher,” Bloomberg News reported on May 12.

Bloomberg cited that the U.S. State Department’s Global Engagement Center claims to have found “a new network of inauthentic accounts” coordinating on Twitter. Center Coordinator Lea Gabrielle stated that China was “adopting Russian-style disinformation techniques” to disrupt America and scapegoat its leadership.

Facebook has been wrestling with electoral misinformation on multiple fronts.

Facebook’s head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, claimed to the Financial Times in a recent interview that the platform is prepared to take “pretty exceptional measures to significantly restrict the circulation of content on our platform” following the presidential election.

Facebook is reportedly under pressure to “combat election-related misinformation, voter suppression and the incitement of violence on the November 3 election day and during the post-election period,” the Times explained.

This blog was written with the help of NewsBusters TechWatch Staff Writer Kayla Sargent.

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