Meta takes down Russian fake news network that supported invasion of Ukraine – APK Games

THE Goal revealed this Tuesday (27) the removal of two fake news on their platforms. One of them was Russian and aimed to create narratives favorable to the invasion of Ukraine. According to the company, it was the biggest campaign of its kind since the beginning of the war. Another, Chinese, tried to influence the 2022 US elections and Czech foreign policy, without much success.

Facebook (Image: Vitor Pádua / APK Games)

The Russian network was primarily focused on Germany, but also reached France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Ukraine itself.

The operation began in May and included a network of more than 60 sites that mimicked legitimate media outlets, such as SpiegelO guardianit’s the Bild. The addresses were, for example, theguardian[.]with[.]com and spiegelr[.]live.

These fake websites produced articles criticizing Ukraine, refugees from the country and the sanctions imposed on Russia. The texts were written in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Ukrainian.

Meta claims to have blocked the domains, but the group created others to follow up on the activities.

Content was promoted on Facebook, Instagram and other networks such as Twitter, Telegram and LiveJournal. Even pages from Russian embassies in Asian and European countries shared the texts and videos.

“This is the largest and most complex operation of Russian origin that we have dismantled since the beginning of the war in Ukraine,” says Meta’s text on the measures taken.

The company says that the content produced on the fake websites demands technical and linguistic sophistication, while the amplification on social networks was done in a more amateurish way, with fake accounts and ad buying.

“Together, these two approaches worked as an attempt to quickly attack the informational environment, and not as a serious initiative to occupy it in the long term”, completes the company.

Instagram app (Image: Brett Jordan/Unsplash)
Instagram app (Image: Brett Jordan/Unsplash)

The company says about $105,000 was spent on Facebook and Instagram ads, paid mostly in dollars and euros. In all, there were 1,633 accounts and 703 pages, which reached more than 4,000 followers.

Chinese network targeted US elections

The Russian network was not the only one blocked by Meta. Another, smaller, originated in China and targeted the US, the Czech Republic, and Chinese and French-speaking audiences around the world. There were four short-term initiatives between the middle of the second half of 2021 and September 2022.

In the US, people on both sides of the political spectrum were targeted, with criticism of Democratic and Republican politicians, as well as support for the agendas of each party. Some content was made in Chinese and French.

In the Czech Republic, the content was critical of the local government and its support for Ukraine, listing consequences of this position and warning of the risks of displeasing China.

The group also acted with fake accounts in Chinese, which published criticisms of US foreign policies.

According to Meta, the group was small, with 81 Facebook accounts, eight pages and one group. The action failed to have a major impact on the platform, with only 20 followers on the pages created.

For Meta, the criterion for taking down accounts and content is the so-called coordinated inauthentic behavior (or CIB).

The company gives this name to the practice of creating and controlling several profiles that act and interact with each other. They aim to increase the reach of publications, often with a determined narrative.

In other words, a group of agents creates profiles of people and media outlets that don’t exist. Then, they simulate an organic behavior, with posts and comments.

Facebook’s algorithm is tricked, as it uses activities like this to determine that content is relevant. Meanwhile, other users are led to believe that those people and vehicles exist, and that their messages have repercussions and support.

With information: Goal.

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