How the internet is fighting Russian disinformation about Ukraine

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This article was contributed by Maria Rosil, content author of the software company Euristik in Lviv, Ukraine.

Sanctions are taking their toll on Russia and the Russian people, but the country still has little opposition to the war on Ukraine. The Russians have been preaching about Ukraine for decades and now they refuse to accept the facts: their troops are attacking with tanks, carrying out air strikes, shelling homes and killing innocent civilians.

In fact, Russian officials are turning this information around and claiming that it is the Ukrainians who are dropping bombs on their cities.

The purpose of the Russian disinformation campaign is to confuse the facts about Ukraine and to confuse the citizens with them in making decisions against their interests. The situation is getting worse – fathers don’t believe in their own sons – telling them that Russia invaded Ukraine because they believe lies about “special military action” and “liberation” of Ukraine.

Due to the lack of a free press in Russia, the Internet can play a crucial role in keeping the Russian people informed about the terror inflicted on Ukrainian citizens by their military forces. With an Internet connection, this information cannot be restricted as it may be at one time. The world – and, first and foremost, the Ukrainians – have begun to take innovative steps with online tools to combat the spread of misinformation and counterfeit news in Russia.

A few years ago, Facebook began labeling “state-controlled media” accounts on Instagram and Facebook. Last week, the company confirmed that it has begun limiting the algorithmic spread of content shaped by the Russian government and down-ranking posts with links to such accounts. Facebook has also begun demoting content with links to Russian state-controlled media websites, and Instagram is set to follow suit soon.

Credits: Screenshots / Instagram

Twitter is also using labels on state-linked accounts to prevent the spread of Russian disinformation. Twitter’s latest move is to label and de-amplify personal accounts that share links to state-run media, and to add warning labels to tweets with such links. The move comes after Russian media misrepresented Ukraine as aggressive.

Anonymous hacker group

Last week, the anonymous, global hacker community declared a cyber war against the Kremlin’s criminal regime. The group has managed to hack Russian state TV channels where news is heavily censored. Broadcast The truth about what is happening in Ukraine.

It also targeted and hacked Russian and Belarusian government websites, state media outlets, banks, hospitals, airports, companies and pro-Russian “hacking groups” in support of Ukraine. The attacks use the same DDoS techniques used in cyber attacks on Ukrainian banking and government websites. In such attacks, the website gets overwhelmed with bot traffic and crashes under the demand for data.

IT Army of Ukraine

The Ukrainian resistance is also active on the cyber front. After Russia launched numerous DDoS attacks on Ukrainian institutions in the first few days of the war, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Announced The formation of the IT Army, a group of IT experts and ordinary Ukrainians who can follow the guidelines to inform Russians what is really happening in Ukraine and slow down the spread of inaccurate information.

Reface startup input

Ukrainians are also trying to get into the information bubble controlled by the Russian government by using popular applications to inform Russians about the real situation in Ukraine.

An example is the Ukrainian face-swapping application Reface, which was created for entertainment purposes. REFES employees working from shelters in Kiev launched push instructions to app users in Russia asking them to join the protest and stand with Ukraine.

Credit: Reface

Google Maps ‘Guerrilla War’

Another example, provoked by a post on a Twitter account claiming to belong to a hacker group AnonymousOrdinary Ukrainians are currently leaving Google restaurant reviews explaining what is happening in Ukraine.

Credit: Screenshot / Google

How you can help fight misinformation about Ukraine

To help fight Russian disinformation, first of all, read the verified sources of information like BBC News. Ukrainian media is also publishing coverage in English. You can check out these links:

And below is a list of the main social media accounts of Ukrainian government officials:

The other thing you can do is spread on social media about the war in Ukraine and the brutal Russian invasion, supporting it with links to reliable resources. There is no place to hide the truth in the 21st century, and the facts and credible information that any responsible human being should reach should not remain silent.

Maria Rosil is a content writer at Euristic, a software company based in Lviv, Ukraine.

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