Meta dismantled an ineffective Russian propaganda operation


Meta dismantled an ineffective Russian propaganda operation

Meta removed more than 1,000 accounts on Instagram and 45 on Facebook in early April.

An organization close to Moscow has waged a social media influence campaign in support of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, using 'troll farms' and hackneyed tactics, Meta has revealed. Thursday.

It looked like a step back, said Ben Nimmo, one of the Californian group's security managers. But they haven't been very good and there's no evidence that they've achieved the impact and virality of before.

Meta has taken down a network of fake accounts on its platforms, created by an entity called Cyber ​​Front Z and people formerly associated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA), suspected of being a digital arm of the Kremlin .

These fake accounts, run by people employed at a troll farm in St. Petersburg, posted pro-Russian comments under personalities and media content, to give the impression of popular support for the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia is sending tons of humanitarian aid to Ukraine, where local Nazis […] are holding citizens hostage, one such account commented under a video posted by Angelina Jolie about the war, on Instagram, according to Meta's report.

In all, the social media giant took down more than 1,000 accounts on Instagram and 45 on Facebook in early April. Some 49,000 accounts were following one or more of the fake profiles on Instagram.

In 2016, the American presidential campaign was marked by massive influence operations carried out by the IRA in favor of Donald Trump.

But unlike other ;other past campaigns, Cyber ​​Front Z didn't really try to lay low, on the contrary.

There was no hidden iceberg below, Ben Nimmo found. It was an attempt to hack (public) perception, playing on our fears, playing on the impression that these operations are effective.

They had that weird channel on Twitter that said “We hacked your elections, we overthrew the Americans, your democracy is in our pocket,” the official recounted.

A Russian media, Fontanka, revealed in March that a troll farm recruited polemicists and spam specialists to post on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, and others in Russia.

On Telegram messaging, a public channel called on its subscribers to flood certain accounts of public figures or news sites with pro-Russian comments.

The operation was, however, largely clumsy and ineffective, the report notes. On Instagram, more than half of fake accounts were detected and deactivated by our automatic systems right after they were created.


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