Facebook claims to have taken down a misinformation network made up of individuals and websites spreading false information regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The parent firm of the social network, Meta, described the network as “relatively small,” with roughly 40 accounts, Pages, and Groups on Facebook and Instagram. It’s unclear when the group began operating, but Meta claims it had fewer than 4,000 Facebook followers and 500 Instagram followers when it was discovered.
It’s a sign that while these actors are trying to run these types of influence operations, they’re getting caught sooner and they’re not reaching the audiences that they would have reached even a few years ago,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta’s head of security policy said.
According to Facebook, Individuals from Russia and Ukraine ran the network by creating bogus profiles on a variety of social media platforms (including YouTube, and Telegram, as well as Meta’s own platforms) to fool investigators. They posed as “news editors, a former aviation engineer, and an author of a scientific journal on hydrography” using AI-generated headshots as profile photographs.
Meta linked the hacking operations to a group known as Ghostwriter, which it said successfully got access to the targets’ social media accounts, in a blog post published on Monday. According to Meta, the hackers attempted to post YouTube videos from the accounts depicting Ukrainian troops as feeble, including one video claiming to show Ukrainian soldiers emerging from a woodland waving a white surrender flag.
Ukrainian cybersecurity officials stated on Friday that hackers from Belarus were targeting Ukrainian military personnel’s private email addresses “and related individuals,” citing a group code-named “UNC1151.” FireEye, a cybersecurity firm based in the United States, has previously linked the organization to Ghostwriter activities.
The security team at Meta stated it had taken steps to secure targeted accounts and had blocked the hackers’ phishing domains. It refused to name any of the targets, but stated that it has notified users when feasible.
Twitter claims to have also been deleting disinformation networks tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to the company, more than a dozen accounts providing links to a propaganda site called Ukraine Today have been suspended.
“On Feb. 27, we permanently suspended more than a dozen accounts and blocked sharing of several links in violation of our platform manipulation and spam policy. Our investigation is ongoing; however, our initial findings indicate that the accounts and links originated in Russia and were attempting to disrupt the public conversation around the ongoing conflict in Ukraine,” a Twitter spokesperson told a US TV channel.