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Facebook says it dismantled Russian intelligence operation targeting Ukraine

LONDON: Fb on Feb 12 mentioned it had suspended a community of accounts utilized by Russian army intelligence to seed false narratives on-line concentrating on Ukraine and different nations in Jap Europe.

“Though the individuals behind this community tried to hide their identities and coordination, our investigation discovered hyperlinks to Russian army intelligence providers,” Fb mentioned in an announcement.

Fb, which has struggled to cease governments and political teams utilizing its platform to unfold false or deceptive data, usually declares it has shut down disinformation campaigns from nations together with Russia.

The Russian Defence Ministry didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark. Moscow has beforehand denied Western allegations of political meddling, together with findings by US Particular Prosecutor Robert Mueller that it used social media accounts in an try to sway the 2016 US presidential vote.

Fb’s head of cybersecurity coverage, Nathaniel Gleicher, mentioned the newest Russian operation used greater than 100 accounts on Fb and its Instagram photo-sharing platform to create faux personas, typically posing as journalists within the focused nations.

These accounts then contacted native media and politicians to plant false tales about politically divisive points, equivalent to corruption allegations, ethnic tensions within the Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea and the downing of a Malaysian airliner in Ukraine in 2014.

“We have recognized for a very long time that these individuals search for genuine voices to amplify their narratives,” Gleicher informed Reuters. “It’s extra of a basic intelligence operation, attempting to govern key people to attain a excessive impression.”

Researchers at social media analytics agency Graphika, who reviewed the accounts earlier than they had been suspended by Fb, mentioned a lot of the exercise dated again to 2016 and 2017, though some accounts had been energetic as not too long ago as this 12 months.

The community failed to collect various thousand followers however was capable of get articles revealed in some native media retailers, mentioned Ben Nimmo, Graphika’s head of investigations.

The faux journalist personas additionally carried out interviews with Kremlin critics, tricking them into making unguarded feedback after which sharing the messages on-line, he mentioned.

“The operation tried to poison the nicely of knowledge by utilizing false personas to plant pro-Kremlin and anti-Western narratives on-line and in native information retailers,” mentioned Nimmo.

Fb mentioned it had additionally suspended two different teams of accounts, unconnected to the Russian operation. One was linked to a previously-identified Iranian community that has focused america and the opposite to a PR agency in Vietnam. – Reuters

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