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Bot farm in Ukraine seized by law enforcement

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) liquidated a bot farm that Russians allegedly used to discredit Ukrainian authorities and the national vaccination program.

The bot farm was discovered in Dnipro. Its administrator, as shown by the investigation materials, is a citizen of Dnipro city. Russian patrons provided her the necessary communication devices and software, whose settings were controlled remotely.

The bot farm was set up in a rented apartment and used to control nearly 5,000 fake Facebook accounts that seemed to belong to Ukrainian citizens.

The mass dissemination of fake information among Ukrainian internet users was aimed at discrediting Ukrainian authorities and the national vaccination program. 

The alleged bot farm operator regularly received orders from her Russian patrons to disseminate disinformation on social media. It was also her responsibility to create new fake social media accounts.

Bot farm in Ukraine seized by law enforcement. Picture: SBU

She received the payment via banned electronic payment systems. The disinformation campaign was designed to cause mistrust of Ukrainian authorities and the national vaccination program.

It is not the first time that the SBU discovered a bot farm operated by Russian agents. In June, SBU found a bot farm near Kyiv. Law enforcement officers detained a Ukrainian national who allegedly used nearly 12,000 SIM cards serviced by Ukrainian and Russian mobile operators in order to create fake user profiles on social networks. 

In March, a bot farm designed to spread online propaganda about Ukraine was exposed in Odessa. In February, another bot farm was uncovered in Lviv.

According to the Kyiv Post, Ukraine has been among the top sources of bot activity since 2018. Bots are often used to sway public opinion.

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