The owner of Facebook Meta Platforms has removed more than 500 accounts linked to the China -based online disinformation network.

The account has promoted allegations of a fake Swiss biologist named “Wilson Edwards”, who claims the U.S. intervened in an effort to find the origin of Covid-19.

Earlier in July, an account disguised as a Swiss biologist named Wilson Edwards had made statements on Facebook and Twitter that the United States was putting pressure on World Health Organization scientists who were studying the origins of Covid-19 in an effort to blame the virus. in China.

State media, including CGTN, Shanghai Daily and Global Times, have quoted the biologist based on his Facebook profile. However, the Swiss embassy said in August that the man was unlikely to exist, as the Facebook account was opened just two weeks before his first post and had only three friends. It added “there is no registration of Swiss nationals with the name” Wilson Edwards “and no academic articles under that name”, and urged the Chinese media to remove any mention of it.

Meta Platforms said in a November report that its investigation into the matter found “links to individuals in mainland China, including employees of Sichuan Silence Information Technology Co Ltd and individuals linked to Chinese national infrastructure companies based around the world.”

The Sichuan Silence Information website describes the company as a network and information security company that provides technical support to China’s Ministry of Public Security and CNCERT, the main team that coordinates China’s cyber security emergency response.

Facebook said it had removed a total of 524 Facebook accounts, 20 pages, four groups and 86 Instagram accounts after reviewing public reports centered around the fake Swiss biologist.

The persona’s original posts were initially shared and liked by fake Facebook accounts, and later developed by authentic users, mostly owned by employees of Chinese national infrastructure companies in more than 20 countries, Meta said.

It added that the operation uses Virtual Private Network (VPN) infrastructure to hide its origins, and to give Edwards a more rounded personality. It also says that his profile photo also appears to have been generated using machine learning capabilities.

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