Facebook parent Meta has exposed a large-scale Russian propaganda operation. Over 60 websites posing as well-known news organizations spread extensive misinformation in the course of this.
According to Metas, it was the largest such case uncovered since the invasion of Ukraine in February. The company said the main target was users in Germany, but also in France, Italy, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom. In view of the extent of the propaganda campaign, a larger editorial team must have been or still be behind the project.
The fake sites published articles accusing Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees of various things, supporting Russia and claiming that Western sanctions against Russia would backfire. But there were also more subtle reports, mainly fueling fears of a gas-free winter and similar scenarios.
Links to the posts, along with original memes and YouTube videos, were then shared across various social media platforms, as well as through the Change.org and Avaaz petition sites. When the security teams in the meta group began to block the exposed websites, the providers quickly tried to switch to new domains. In this respect, it is likely that the entire campaign will gradually move to other places.
Users have to be careful
The propaganda editorial team writes in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, and Ukrainian. In some cases, the Facebook pages of Russian embassies in Europe and Asia boosted the dissemination of content. But the Meta employees are not alone in this either but are working together with various external organizations to prevent the progressive distribution of such content.
However, that is not exactly easy. In this respect, it is also up to the users to sharpen their media skills in order not to fall for false information and propaganda.