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Meta shuts down largest Russian propaganda campaign since invasion


Russians impersonated well-known media outlets, such as the Guardian and Spiegel, to spread war propaganda. The content was amplified by Russian embassies in Europe and Asia.

Meta took down two unconnected influence operations from China and Russia for violating its policy against Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB.)

A network in China targeted US domestic politics and Czechia’s foreign policy toward China and Ukraine. A Russian network was used to influence war narratives in Germany, France, Italy, Ukraine, and the UK.

Russia

The Russian influence campaign started this May and centered around a sprawling network of over 60 websites. Threat actors impersonated legitimate news outlets, including Spiegel, The Guardian, and Bild, to post articles criticizing Ukraine and its refugees, supporting the Kremlin, and arguing that Western sanctions on Russia would backfire.

“They would then promote these articles and also original memes and YouTube videos across many internet services, including Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, Twitter, petitions websites Change.org and Avaaz, and even LiveJournal,” Meta said.

The company blocked the operation’s domains. However, threat actors attempted to set up new websites, “suggesting persistence and continuous investment in this activity across the internet.”

In some cases, the content was also distributed by the Facebook Pages of Russian embassies in Europe and Asia.

“This is the largest and most complex Russian-origin operation that we’ve disrupted since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. It presented an unusual combination of sophistication and brute force,” Meta said.

China

A small network from China targeted the US, the Czech Republic, and to a lesser extent, Chinese- and French-speaking audiences worldwide.

“In the United States, it targeted people on both sides of the political spectrum; in Czechia, this activity was primarily anti-government, criticizing the state’s support of Ukraine in the war with Russia and its impact on the Czech economy, using the criticism to caution against antagonizing China,” Meta said.

The content was posted during working hours in China, so few people engaged with the campaign, and some even recognized it was fake.

“This was the first Chinese network we disrupted that focused on US domestic politics ahead of the midterm elections, as well as Czechia’s foreign policy toward China and Ukraine. Chinese influence operations that we’ve disrupted before typically focused on criticizing the United States to international audiences, rather than primarily targeting domestic audiences in the US,” Meta noted.


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