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Campaigning for facts

Countering Russia’s Disinformation Narratives on Ukraine

Ukraine

Prior to its invasion of Ukraine, Russia has prepared the ground with targeted false reports in order to convince the Russians of the imminent attack, deceiving and distracting citizenry and decision-makers alike, as well as obtaining a favorable public opinion internationally.

Amid those targeted false campaigns, a video, circulating on social networks, showing an alleged attack by Ukrainian forces on a school in the separatist region. Another story is about Kyiv gassing people in concentration camps.

This war on Ukraine is not only waged with tanks and missiles but is also supported by a targeted disinformation strategy and narratives across mainstream & social media through multiple tactics using influencers, online comments, images & spokespersons.

As always, social networks were the easiest platforms to target where propaganda and false reports are currently flourishing.

Upon the attack, Russia’s media censor has issued a series of strong warnings: – Any media outlet that quotes sources other than the Kremlin or its armed forces may be banned – uses of the words “attack, invasion or declaration of war” are banned.

Putin has framed the war as an operation to liberate Russian speakers in the separatist-controlled Donbas border region — leading news anchors to largely avoid so much as mentioning the fierce battles going on across the rest of Ukraine.

Moscow spin-doctors and officials are on a mission to frame the war in the Russian president’s terms.

State television is the primary source of news for four out of five Russians, while the country has begun limiting access to Facebook and Twitter since the invasion began.

The efforts not to mention the invasion, or even call it one, have left Russian media outgunned by a huge wave of posts by Ukrainians on social networks that they have struggled to counter.

COUNTERING DISINFORMATION

The fight against misinformation has not been visible yet by Meta, instead, it is mainly journalists and volunteers taking action against Russian disinformation. Most of them struggle though to use OSINT technologies, i.e. generally available online tools, to check the topicality, plausibility, and origin of the many video snippets circulating currently.

Facebook did however announce that they are in the process of preventing Russian state media from placing ads on Facebook worldwide or earning money there. Twitter also reacted. It is blocking advertisements in Russia and Ukraine until further notice – and justified this as follows: It wants to ensure that important public security information is more visible, and advertising distracts from this.

Youtube has also blocked RT and other Russian state-funded media channels from generating revenue on its platform.

Linkedin and Ticktock meanwhile are Russia’s go-to platforms and are currently flourishing with Moscow spin-doctors false narratives.

Feature photo, courtesy of EU vs. Disinformation


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