Live Updates: Russia’s War in Ukraine
Two secret « China and Russia influence operations » spreading political narratives about the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine have been removed from Facebook for violating the platform’s « inauthentic behavior » policy, Meta said on Tuesday.
The Russian network was the « largest of its kind we’ve disrupted since the start of the war in Ukraine, » Meta said, targeting audiences in Germany, France, Italy and Ukraine with « war-focused narratives and its impact through a sprawling network of more than 60 websites posing as legitimate news outlets.
The stories pushed by the Russian network centered on the war in Ukraine, reproducing pro-Kremlin talking points about the impact of sanctions and airing stories critical of Ukrainian refugees.
The sprawling network – which began in May this year – included more than 60 websites that carefully impersonated news outlets across Europe, including The Guardian, Bild and Der Spiegel. The disinformation effort revolved around fake news articles, quirky memes and YouTube videos that were shared on Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, Twitter, Change.org, Avaaz and LiveJournal, according to Meta.
Content was shared in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian, and in some cases amplified through the Facebook pages of Russian embassies in Europe and Asia.
“This is the largest and most complex Russian-origin operation that we have interrupted since the start of the war in Ukraine. It exhibited an unusual combination of sophistication and brute force,” Meta said.
The network originating in China was smaller in scope and targeted people in the United States, the Czech Republic and, to a lesser extent, Chinese and French-speaking audiences around the world in four « widely separate and short-lived efforts » between 2021 and mid-September 2022.
In the United States, the operation focused on « domestic policy ahead of the midterm elections », while in the Czech Republic, the stories were about the country’s « foreign policy towards China and Ukraine ». , said Meta.