KUALA LUMPUR: The Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) has been linked to a troll farm that promotes the government and criticises its detractors, according to a report by tech giant Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.
In its Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report, Meta claimed that about 1,000 Facebook and Instagram accounts, as well as Facebook groups and pages, were removed for violating its policy against coordinated inauthentic behaviour.
The report said in Malaysia, 596 Facebook accounts, 180 pages, 11 groups and 72 Instagram accounts were removed for violating the policy.
“Such behaviour can be defined as the coordinated use of fake accounts to manipulate public debate for a strategic goal.
“The network originated in Malaysia and targeted domestic audiences in the country.
“The individuals behind it ran a troll farm – a coordinated effort by co-located operators to corrupt or manipulate public discourse by using fake accounts and misleading people about who is behind them,” said Meta.The network, it said, was active across the Internet, including Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and Instagram, and posted memes in Malay in support of the current government coalition, with claims of corruption among its critics.
“On Facebook, this network managed pages, including those posing as independent news entities, and promoted police while criticising the opposition.
“Typically, their posting activity accelerated during weekdays, taking breaks for lunch. Their fake accounts were fairly under-developed, and some of them used stolen profile pictures. Some of them were detected and disabled by our automated systems,” said the company.
Meta claimed it had uncovered the network after reviewing information about a small portion of this activity initially suspected to have originated in China by researchers at Clemson University in the United States.
“Although the people behind it attempted to conceal their identity and coordination, our investigation found links to the Royal Malaysia Police,” it said.
At press time, police had yet to respond to the Meta report or to queries by The Star.