Facebook owner Meta Platform said on Thursday it had removed a network of social media accounts linked to the Brazilian military that posed as fake nonprofits to reduce the risk of deforestation.
Although the people involved in the network were active military personnel, the Meter investigation did not find sufficient evidence to confirm whether they were following orders or acting independently, said a source familiar with the matter.
Meter’s quarterly report could be detrimental to Brazilian President Zaire Balsonaro. The far-right former army captain, a longtime skeptic of environmentalism, has deployed armed forces to the Amazon on a failed mission to reduce the destruction of the world’s largest rainforest.
The takedown operation, hitting Meta’s first network that initially focused on environmental issues, could also add fuel to Bolsonaro’s attacks on major technology companies, which he accused of suppressing conservative voices on their platforms.
Critics say Bolsonaro and his supporters use platforms to spread dangerous confusion by undermining Brazil’s democratic institutions.
In its report, Meta said the anonymous network, which was limited and limited to authentic engagements, used fake accounts on Facebook and Instagram to post primarily about land reform and epidemics in 2020 before focusing on environmental issues last year.
“In 2021, they created a page focusing on environmental issues in the Amazonas region of Brazil, posing as fictional NGOs and activists. They posted about deforestation, arguing that it is not all harmful and criticizing legitimate environmental NGOs who Amazon spoke out against the devastation, “Meta said in his report.
“Although the people behind the network tried to hide their identities and connections, our investigation found links to people associated with the Brazilian military.”
Meta declined to provide additional information about his investigation.
The Brazilian military said in a statement that it was aware of the Meter allegations and had reached out to the company for access to data based on claims of military involvement.
It says all its members must practice “truth, truthfulness and honesty”.
Balsonaro’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Thomson Reuters 2022