28 September 2022

Meta takes down large Russian disinformation network that spoofed legitimate news outlets


Meta takes down large Russian disinformation network that spoofed legitimate news outlets

Social giant Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, took action against disinformation networks consisting of hundreds of fake accounts linked to Russia and China that targeted users in Europe, Ukraine and the United States.

Though unrelated, both campaigns were similar in their criticism of the West. The China-based influence operation targeted the United States, the Czech Republic and to a lesser extent, Chinese- and French-speaking audiences around the world. It was primarily focused on US domestic politics ahead of the midterm elections in November, as well as Czechia’s foreign policy toward China and Ukraine. The network maintained fake accounts across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but did not attract much of a following.

On the other hand, the Russian campaign was one of the largest and most complex operations Meta has disrupted since the start of the Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The operation began in May and involved a sprawling network of over 60 websites disguised as legitimate websites of news organizations in Europe, including Spiegel, The Guardian and Bild.

“There, they would post original articles that criticized Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees, supported Russia and argued that Western sanctions on Russia would backfire. They would then promote these articles and also original memes and YouTube videos across many internet services, including Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, Twitter, petitions websites Change.org and Avaaz, and even LiveJournal,” Meta said.

More than 1,600 fake Facebook accounts were used to spread the propaganda to audiences in Germany, Italy, France, the UK and Ukraine.


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