Chinese hackers used Facebook to try and trick Uyghur minority | Tech News

Chinese hackers used Facebook to try and trick Uyghur minority

The effort, which Facebook described as “highly targeted,” saw a group of hackers create fake personalities on Facebook to build relationships with Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic group in China.

By:BLOOMBERG
| Updated on: Aug 21 2022, 16:02 IST
Facebook said fewer than 500 people were targeted, and that the majority of the effort took place on websites and services outside of the social network.
Facebook said fewer than 500 people were targeted, and that the majority of the effort took place on websites and services outside of the social network. (REUTERS)

Facebook said Chinese hackers used fake accounts in an effort to trick some of the country's ethnic Uyghur minority into clicking on malicious links.

The effort, which Facebook described as “highly targeted,” saw a group of hackers create fake personalities on Facebook to build relationships with Uyghurs, a Muslim ethnic group in China. The hackers posed as journalists, students and human rights advocates to convince their targets to click on links that sent them to malicious websites, which could then infect their phones.

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Facebook said fewer than 500 people were targeted, and that the majority of the effort took place on websites and services outside of the social network. As a result, Facebook executives said they were unable to determine the overall impact and consequences of the campaign.

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“What they're trying to do is target devices and target assets beyond Facebook and that makes it very tricky for us to assess success,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of security policy. “The consequences and impact can be really high for individuals,” including potentially surveillance, he added.

The Chinese government has put at least tens of thousands of Uyghurs in internment camps, according to the United Nations. The country says it is fighting separatism and religious extremism among the ethnic group. The US government called this “genocide” in January.

Facebook has cracked down in recent years on coordinated efforts by outside groups to create fake networks of accounts, many of them built to use the social networks' massive scale to spread misinformation and disinformation. The company has removed multiple networks of accounts from China before, but stopped short of saying these hacking groups are linked to the Chinese government. “We can't actually prove who is behind the operation,” Gleicher said.

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First Published Date: 24 Mar, 23:58 IST
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