Facebook takes down fake accounts boosting Russian disinformation in Ukraine

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Facebook has taken down a community of fake accounts making an attempt to unfold Russian disinformation in Ukraine. The company stated it had eliminated about 40 accounts, pages and teams from Facebook and Instagram that have been detected during the last 48 hours. The company has additionally labored to cease hacking makes an attempt focusing on Ukrainians navy and authorities officers on current days.

In a briefing Sunday night time, Meta’s Director of Threat Disruption David Agranovich stated the accounts in question hadn’t but gained a big following after they have been recognized by the company’s safety researchers. He stated the accounts had about 4,000 followers and Facebook and about 500 on Instagram.

The fake personas, which have been focusing on individuals in Ukraine, have been getting used to prop up fake information web sites that revealed claims aimed toward “undermining the Ukrainian government and boosting the activities of Russian actors,” in line with Nathaniel Gleicher, the company’s head of safety coverage. “They would publish claims about the West betraying Ukraine and about Ukraine being a failed state,” Agranovich stated. “They also claimed to be based in Kyiv, and posed as news editors, as a former aviation engineer, as the author of a scientific publication.”

The company stated in an announcement that its investigation into these accounts is ongoing however that it has linked the individuals behind the fake accounts to a earlier takedown of fake accounts in 2020. Facebook safety researchers stated the exercise was traced to “individuals in Russia, the Donbass region in Ukraine and two media organizations in Crimea — NewsFront and SouthFront.”

Separately, Facebook researchers warned {that a} handful of Ukrainian journalists, navy officers and different public figures have been focused with hacking makes an attempt in current days. The exercise, which Facebook is attributing to an entity recognized to safety researchers as “Ghostwriter,” can also be meant to unfold disinformation. Facebook stated Ghostwriter sometimes makes use of phishing assaults to take over e mail accounts and social media accounts in order to submit disinformation whereas posing as public figures.

“We detected attempts to target people on Facebook, and post YouTube videos portraying Ukrainian troops as weak and surrendering to Russia, including a video claiming to show Ukrainian soldiers surrendering,” Agranovich stated. Facebook isn’t speculating who’s behind Ghostwriter however different researchers have linked the assaults.

The takedowns come as Facebook has tried to comprise Russia’s means to wield disinformation on its platform. Facebook stated final week that it was forming a safety operations middle to watch the state of affairs in Ukraine and assist it reply shortly to threats and misinformation. The social community has additionally inspired individuals in Ukraine their accounts, and Gleicher stated Sunday that Facebook would even be enabling its “lock profile” software in Russia as effectively.

At the identical time, Russia has stated it plans to to Facebook in the nation after the company declined to take away truth checks from Russian state media retailers. Gleicher for now the company hasn’t seen indicators that its providers are being blocked efficiently. “We do believe that we’re still accessible in the country,” he stated. He that Facebook is “fully blocking the ability of a number of Russian state media entities from broadcasting into Ukraine.”

When requested if Facebook was contemplating blocking Russian state media globally — following an on two distinguished retailers — Gleicher didn’t rule out the likelihood. “Given the situation and how quickly things are moving, we’re continuing to evaluate a full range of options.”

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