“They targeted activists, journalists and dissidents among Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities from Xinjiang in China primarily living abroad in Turkey, Kazakhstan, the United States and other countries,” Facebook said in a post Wednesday detailing its findings about the cyber espionage campaign.
“This group used fake accounts on Facebook to create fictitious personas posing as journalists, students, human rights advocates or members of the Uyghur community to build trust with people they targeted and trick them into clicking on malicious links,” the company said.
Some of Facebook’s finding benefited from research by FireEye, a cybersecurity company, Facebook said.
The US State Department has previously estimated as many as 2 million Uyghurs, as well as members of other Muslim minority groups, have been detained in internment camps in the region.
The hacking groups identified as being behind the latest campaign are known in the cybersecurity industry as “Evil Eye” and “Earth Empusa” and have been involved in previous spying campaigns, according to Facebook.
Facebook and other social media platforms were widely criticized for allowing Russian trolls to pose as Americans online in the run-up to the 2016 election. Since then, Facebook has publicly called out some governments and other entities it finds using its platform for nefarious purposes.