Facebook has detected limited Chinese operations intended to both help and hurt President Trump’s re-election chances, the company announced on Tuesday, the first public disclosure of Chinese efforts to influence the presidential election in November.
The Chinese activity, while modest and not directly attributed to the government in Beijing, could undercut Mr. Trump’s repeated contention that China is intervening in the election to support former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic candidate. While the intelligence community has assessed that China opposes Mr. Trump’s re-election, officials said this week that the actions on Facebook so far were small and Beijing had not yet decided to mount a large-scale influence operation comparable to Russian efforts in 2016 and this year.
Facebook identified a range of fake accounts pushing information about American and Philippine politics and Chinese activity in the South China Sea. Though much of the activity outlined by China was centered on the Philippines, some was more directly relevant to American politics.
Facebook said it was removing the accounts for violating its policy against “inauthentic behavior.” The activity was coordinated and originated in China, though Chinese officials, including the ambassador to the United States, have denied allegations they are seeking to influence the vote in November.