Meta Platforms, which operates Facebook, said on Tuesday that it removed the first known China-based propaganda operation targeting the upcoming U.S. midterm elections in November.
One example of the operation’s efforts included a targeted attack on Republican Sen. Marco Rubio asking him to stop gun violence. It used the hashtag #RubioChildrenKiller.
The Chinese operation maintained a network of accounts across Facebook and Instagram, as well as Twitter, but failed to attract much of a following, Meta said in a report of its findings.
The report notes that the discovery was significant as it suggested a shift from previous known Chinese propaganda efforts to more direct interference.
"The Chinese operations we've taken down before talked primarily about America to the world, primarily in South Asia, not to Americans about themselves," said Meta global threat intelligence lead Ben Nimmo.
"Essentially the message was 'America bad, China good,'" added Nimmo, who noted that the operation pushed divisive political issues like gun rights and abortion.
According to Reuters, another Meta executive said the company did not have enough evidence to determine who in China backed the activity.
The report suggests that the Chinese network also set up fake accounts designed to look like citizens of the Czech Republic to influence the Czech government’s approach to China.