Meta and Twitter on Sunday shut down a network of websites posing as independent news agencies or fake personas, targeting Ukrainians on Facebook and Instagram.
The Facebook owner identified a breach of its coordinated inauthentic behaviour (CIB) policy over the past 48 hours that manifested in fake personas posting links and content suggesting Western nations had betrayed Ukraine or that Ukraine was a failed state, reads a new report from NBC.
The cross-platform operation also spanned Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, and Russian social network VK as well as websites posing as independent news outlets. The fake accounts claimed to be based in Kyiv and included fictitious news editors and a former aviation engineer, while their profile photos appeared to have been generated with the help of artificial intelligence software, the company said.
“We took this operation down, we’ve blocked their domains from being shared on our platform, and we’ve shared information about the operations with other tech platforms with researchers and with governments,” David Agranovich, director of threat disruption for Meta, said in a statement.
The campaign consisted of about 40 fake accounts, pages, and groups targeting high-profile Ukrainian journalists, military members, and “public thinkers.” Fictitious characters were also active on YouTube, Twitter, Telegram, and Russian social media sites Odnoklassniki and VK “to appear more authentic” and “avoid scrutiny,” according to Agranovich.
The campaign operated from Russia and Ukraine and targeted people across multiple social platforms, as well as through its own websites. It used fake accounts to operate fake personas not just on Facebook and Instagram, but also on Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and two Russian social media networks. The operation also ran a handful of websites that masqueraded as independent news websites and claimed to be based in Kyiv.