Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has revealed that Russia has resorted to spammer tactics to spread propaganda related to the ongoing war in Ukraine. According to a threat report, Russia has deployed thousands of fake accounts to hijack online conversations about the conflict, and has even set up fake versions of legitimate news outlet websites at similar online addresses. Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy at Meta, said that this activity is more akin to spammer tactics rather than the sophisticated influence operations that have been previously disrupted by Meta.
Meta has taken measures to prevent state news outlets from spreading misinformation or profiting from fake reports about the Ukraine conflict since Russia invaded the country a year ago. According to Gleicher, user engagement with Russian state news outlet misinformation has dropped more than 80% due to these measures. However, Meta has also reported an increase in covert activity by Russian influence campaigns that use thousands of fake accounts across multiple social media platforms to overwhelm the conversation with their content.
Meta shares what it finds with researchers and other social networks to expose deception campaigns. Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs at Meta, said that last year Meta took down two Russian covert influence campaigns that attempted to hijack online exchanges about the war. These campaigns used armies of fake accounts and targeted several social media platforms, including Telegram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Meta has reported that these campaigns continue to try to revive deleted fake accounts, but their efforts have been largely unsuccessful.