Police have denied a claim by social media giant Meta that implicated the Royal Malaysian Police in attempts to manipulate public discourse by setting up a “troll farm”.
Police secretary Noorsiah Binti Mohd Saaduddin in a statement last night said they viewed the allegation seriously and are getting more information about the matter.
Yesterday, Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, revealed in its Quarterly Adversarial Threat Report that it had removed hundreds of Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups which are part of a troll farm aimed at social media users in the country.
Meta said its investigation found the troll farm being linked to the Royal Malaysian Police.
Following this, DAP social media bureau chairperson Syahredzan Johan demanded to know whether the government was using public money to fund the alleged troll farm
“If it is true, it revealed a concerted effort to manipulate public discussion by using fake accounts and websites for the political benefit of the government,” he said.
“This report shows that the government is funding trolls and cybertroopers using public funds and resources for their political interests.”
Pro-govt, anti-opposition propaganda
Meta said its report provides insight into global threats that the social media giant had tackled globally, including in Malaysia, Russia, Israel, Pakistan, India, South Africa, Greece, and the Philippines.
“We also removed three networks engaged in coordinated inauthentic behaviour (CIB) operations, including one network linked to a PR firm in Israel, and two separate troll farms – one in Malaysia targeting domestic audiences and one in Russia targeting global discourse about the war in Ukraine.
“In Malaysia, we removed 596 Facebook accounts, 180 pages, 11 groups and 72 Instagram accounts for violating our policy against CIB. This network originated in Malaysia and targeted domestic audiences in that 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.
“They were 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,” said the report.
“On Facebook, this network managed pages, including those posing as independent news entities, and promoted police while criticising the opposition.
“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 Malaysian Police,” said the report.
The report said about 427,000 accounts followed one or more of these pages, while some 4,000 accounts followed one or more of these groups, and 15,000 accounts followed the Instagram accounts.
“Around US$6,000 (about RM26,741) was spent for advertisement on Facebook and Instagram,” said the report.