Earlier in July, a Facebook account with the name Wilson Edwards claimed the US was interfering with efforts to discover the origins of Covid-19. Edwards also claimed to be a Swiss biologist and their comments were widely reported in Chinese state-run media. People became curious — just who was this person and were they telling the truth? Well, no.
The Swiss embassy said there was “no registry of a Swiss citizen with the name Wilson Edwards and no academic articles under the name.” The Facebook account was just two weeks old when the first post was made and had only three friends. Wilson Edwards was a phony profile linked to a wider disinformation campaign.
Upon investigating the matter, Meta said it found “links to individuals in mainland China… and individuals associated with Chinese state infrastructure companies based around the world.” Meta said it deactivated 524 Facebook profiles, 20 pages, four groups, and 86 Instagram accounts linked to the disinformation campaign.
According to Meta, the catfish’s original post was shared and liked by fake Facebook accounts before being shared by genuine users, most of whom were employed by Chinese state infrastructure businesses. The account used a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to hide its origins and appeared to have used machine learning to generate its profile photo.
The origins of Covid-19 remain a subject of debate between the US, China, and other countries, as the virus’s origin remains a mystery nearly two years after it was initially discovered.
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