Facebook removes Chinese accounts active in Philippine and US politics

The Facebook logo is seen on and binary code in an illustration photo.
The Facebook logo is seen on and binary code in an illustration photo.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Facebook said on Tuesday (Sept 22) it had removed a network of inauthentic Chinese accounts that were interfering in Asian and American politics, including some that posted material supporting and opposing US President Donald Trump.

The social networking company said it suspended 155 accounts on its main platform along with six Instagram accounts.

The most widely followed accounts and pages were in the Philippines, where they shared content supporting China's actions in the contested South China Sea and national leader Rodrigo Duterte.

The US accounts had fewer followers and posted content fuelling both sides of the American election that will be held on Nov 3 rather than exclusively supporting one side, the company said.

Facebook cybersecurity policy chief Nathaniel Gleicher said that the takedown was the company's first of Chinese-based accounts on foreign-interference grounds with any engagement in US politics.

But he said the American accounts and groups seemed aimed mainly at building an audience.

"The volume of content is so low, it's very hard to assess what their goal is," Gleicher said.

Trump and his intelligence officials have said China was favouring Democratic challenger Joe Biden.