On February 12, Facebook said it had suspended a network of accounts Russian military intelligence used to seed false narratives online targeting Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe. Reuters agency reported this.
“Although the people behind this network attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to Russian military intelligence services,” Facebook said in a statement.
Facebook, which has struggled to stop governments and political groups using its platform to spread false or misleading information, regularly announces it has shut down disinformation campaigns from countries including Russia.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Moscow has previously denied Western allegations of political meddling, including findings by U.S. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller that it used social media accounts in an attempt to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential vote.
Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said the latest Russian operation used more than 100 accounts on Facebook and its Instagram photo-sharing platform to create fake personas, often posing as journalists in the targeted countries.
These accounts then contacted local media and politicians to plant false stories about politically divisive issues, such as corruption allegations, ethnic tensions in the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea and the downing of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine in 2014.
“We’ve known for a long time that these people look for authentic voices to amplify their narratives,” Gleicher told Reuters. “It is more of a classic intelligence operation, trying to manipulate key individuals to achieve a high impact.”
Earlier it was reported that in 2020, Facebook might launch a program to counter disinformation in Ukraine. The company will visually highlight information in which there are signs of manipulation. Facebook is currently working on the technical designation of relevant data so that people can separate the manipulation in their feed. In the future, it is planned not only to recognize such information with the help of tags, but also to provide users with a link to an article "that debunk one or another myth."