Facebook has shown some examples of the Thailand-originated Facebook accounts and pages it has taken down for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.
The social media giant said in a statement on Thursday it had removed 12 accounts and 10 pages that originated in Thailand on topics ranging from Thai politics, geopolitical issues like US-China relations, protests in Hong Kong and criticism of democracy activists in Thailand.
Along with Thailand, Facebook did the same for suspected deceptive networks abusing its service in Russia, Ukraine and Honduras.
In the Thailand case, the social media giant said about 38,000 users followed one or more of these pages and less than $18,000 (558,000 baht) was spent for ads on Facebook paid for in US dollars.
Facebook stressed the reason for the removal was their behaviour, not the content they posted.
They created networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing, it said.
“The people behind this small network used fake accounts to create fictitious personas and run Pages, increase engagement, disseminate content, and also to drive people to off-platform blogs posing as news outlets,” it said in the case of Thailand.
It found some of the activity was linked to an individual based in Thailand associated with New Eastern Outlook, a Russian government-funded journal based in Moscow. It did not reveal the name.
The posts shown as examples by Facebook are those of Land Destroyer, The New Atlas and the Local Revolution and New Eastern Outlook, which claimed to be news outlets.
The Land Destroyer Report, whose blog remains active on the world wide web, is maintained by someone by the name of Tony Cartalucci, who claimed to be “an independent American geopolitical analyst based in Thailand”.
Several of the stories involving Thailand on the blog are written by the person, who has occasionally been quoted and described as an American academic by some Thai politicians and local news agencies in support of their criticism against former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, red shirts and anti-coup groups including Nitirat and, more recently, the Future Forward Party and its core leaders.
Twitter seems to have taken down the accounts of these news outlets as well.
According to a 2014 Asian Correspondent article, Tony Cartalucci is believed to be a pseudonym made up by Michael
Pirsch, who in an abbreviated biography on the website Truthout.com, describes himself as a former “union activist
and union organizer for more than 25 years and a DJ on Berkeley Liberation Radio, a pirate radio station” who now lives “as an economic refugee from the United States in Thailand.”