How Facebook and Google are funding global misinformation

There are hundreds, accumulated tens of thousands of participations and hundreds of thousands of views. As of early November, “MIT Technology Review” found that there were still dozens of repeated fake live videos during this time period. A copy pair with more than 200,000 and 160,000 views respectively declared in Burmese: “I am the only one who broadcast live from all over the country.” After we got their attention, Facebook deleted several of them, but There are dozens more and the pages that posted them still exist. Osborne said that the company is aware of this problem and has drastically reduced these fake lives and their distribution in the past year.

Ironically, Rio believes that these videos may have been removed from crisis footage uploaded to YouTube as evidence of human rights. In other words, these scenes do come from Myanmar-but they are all released from Vietnam and Cambodia.

In the past six months, Rio has tracked and identified several page clusters from Vietnam and Cambodia. Many people use fake live videos to quickly build fan numbers and encourage viewers to join Facebook groups that pretend to be pro-democratic communities. Rio is now worried that Facebook’s latest live video interstitial ads will further encourage clickbait actors to fake them. An 18-page Cambodian cluster began to publish highly damaging political misinformation, with 16 million participations and 1.6 million viewers in four months. Facebook deleted all 18 pages in March, but the new cluster continues to grow, while other clusters still exist.

As far as Rio knows, these Vietnamese and Cambodian actors do not speak Burmese. They may not understand Burmese culture or the politics of the country. The bottom line is that they don’t need it. Not when they steal their content.

Since then, Rio has found several Cambodian private Facebook and Telegram groups (one with more than 3,000 people), where they trade tools and tips on the best money making strategies. MIT Technology Review reviewed the documents, images, and videos she collected, and hired a Khmer translator to explain a tutorial video that walked the audience through the clickbait workflow.

These materials show how Cambodian operators collect research on the best performing content in each country and plagiarize this content for their clickbait sites. A Google Drive folder shared within the community has two dozen spreadsheets with links to the most popular Facebook groups in 20 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, India, France, and Germany , Mexico and Brazil.

The tutorial videos also show how they find the most popular YouTube videos in different languages ​​and use automated tools to convert each video into an article on their website. For example, we found 29 YouTube channels spreading political misinformation about the current political situation in Myanmar. These channels were converted into clickbait articles and redistributed to new audiences on Facebook.

One of the YouTube channels that spread political misinformation in Myanmar. Google eventually banned it.

After we brought it to its attention, YouTube terminated all these channels because they violated its community guidelines, and 7 of them were determined by it as part of coordinated influence operations related to Myanmar. Choi pointed out that YouTube previously stopped advertising on nearly 2,000 videos on these channels. “We will continue to actively monitor our platform to prevent bad actors from abusing our network for profit,” she said.

There are other tools, including tools that allow pre-recorded videos to appear as fake Facebook Live videos.Another randomly generated Profile details of American men, Including images, names, birthdays, social security numbers, phone numbers, and addresses, so another tool can use some of these information to mass-produce fake Facebook accounts.

It is so easy to do now that many Cambodian actors can act alone. Rio calls them micro-entrepreneurs. In the most extreme case, she saw individuals manage up to 11,000 Facebook accounts on their own.

Successful micro-entrepreneurs are also training others to do this work in their communities. “The situation will get worse,” she said. “Any Joe in the world may affect your information environment without you realizing it.”

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