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  • Writer's picturePeter DiSilvio

Facebook Front Lines: The War is Online

Updated: Mar 12, 2022

Yesterday Meta, the parent company of Facebook, issued a press release where they claimed employees detected and removed two disinformation campaigns run by groups in Russia and Ukraine [1].

"We detected attempts to target people on Facebook to post YouTube videos portraying Ukrainian troops as weak and surrendering to Russia, including one video claiming to show Ukrainian soldiers coming out of a forest while flying a white flag of surrender," the statement read. Meta claims to be monitoring the situation closely adding that they " also blocked phishing domains these hackers used to try to trick people in Ukraine into compromising their online accounts". "This operation [Meta concluded] ran a handful of websites masquerading as independent news outlets, publishing claims about the West betraying Ukraine and Ukraine being a failed state".

This latest revelation comes as no surprise to those who monitor social media. Fake accounts, also known as shell accounts or sock puppets, have existed for as long as these networks have. In politics we often see that in the strategy known as astroturfing, when a political organization or lobbying groups tries to create the impression there is a groundswell of support or opposition for an initiative when, in reality, is only a handful of paid professionals.

Meta has since issued security recommendations for Ukrainian citizens [2] and blocked Russian actors from advertising on their platforms [3].

As the conflict escalates there will undoubtedly be more attempts to shape public opinion via planted stories and faux social media 'leaks'. Users are warned to always question where the information they are receiving is coming from and what motive, if any, the sender may have.


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