KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — Chairman of DAP’s Social Media Bureau, Syahredzan Johan, today commented on the news that Meta had identified a social media troll farm active on the platforms Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and Instagram connected with the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), saying that if true, it exposes a concerted effort to manipulate public discourse by using fake accounts and websites for the political benefit of the government.
It also showed how the government has been funding trolls and cybertroopers with public funds and resources for its own interests, the DAP Central Executive Committee (CEC) member said in a statement.
“It is not an exaggeration to conclude that apart from these accounts and pages, there are other accounts and pages, across various social media platforms, which also carry out similar activities. Public resources, including bodies that should serve all Malaysians, should not be used for political purposes like this,” he said.
Syahredzan also called on the government to provide a transparent and detailed explanation for the information released by Meta in its report, cautioning that, if not, it will give a negative perception that public bodies and resources have been used for the political purposes of the current government.
Meta, the company that owns social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, released its Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report today, revealing that it had identified and removed 596 Facebook accounts, 180 Facebook pages, 11 Facebook groups and 72 Instagram accounts as part of a troll farm aimed at social media users in Malaysia.
The troll farm, which Meta claimed is connected to PDRM, had uploaded memes in the Malay language, criticised the political opposition as well as made accusations of corruption against critics of the government.
“We found this network after reviewing information about a small portion of this activity initially suspected to have originated in China by researchers at Clemson University. Although the people behind it attempted to conceal their identity and coordination, our investigation found links to the Royal Malaysia Police,” said the company in its report.
Many of these accounts were alleged to have spent up to US$6,000 (about RM26,739) for advertisements on Facebook and Instagram, paid for mainly in ringgit.
The accounts had violated the company’s policy against “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”, which it described as an effort to mislead people or Facebook about the popularity of content, the goal of a community through groups, pages, events or the identity of the people behind it.