Meta takes down network targeting Ukrainians with fake news

The people ran websites posing as independent news entities and created fake personas across social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and also Russian Odnoklassniki and VK apps, the company said late on Sunday.Meta took down this operation, blocked their domains from being shared on its platform, and shared information with other tech platforms, researchers and governments.

Meta has taken down a network for targeting people in Ukraine who posed as news editors, aviation engineers and authors to spread misinformation around the Russian invasion across social media platforms.

The people ran websites posing as independent news entities and created fake personas across social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and also Russian Odnoklassniki and VK apps, the company said late on Sunday.

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"In the last 48 hours, we uncovered a relatively small network of about 40 accounts, Pages and Groups on Facebook and Instagram. They were operated from Russia and Ukraine and targeted people in Ukraine across multiple social media platforms and through their own websites," said Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Security Policy at Meta.

Meta took down this operation, blocked their domains from being shared on its platform, and shared information with other tech platforms, researchers and governments.

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"When we disrupted this network on our platform, it had fewer than 4,000 Facebook accounts following one or more of its Pages and fewer than 500 accounts following one or more of its Instagram accounts," Gleicher said.

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This network used fake accounts and operated fictitious personas and brands across the internet -- including on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram, Odnoklassniki and VK -- to appear more authentic in an apparent attempt to withstand scrutiny by platforms and researchers.

These fictitious personas used profile pictures likely generated using artificial intelligence techniques like generative adversarial networks (GAN).

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They claimed to be based in Kiev and posed as news editors, a former aviation engineer, and an author of a scientific publication on hydrography -- the science of mapping water.

This operation ran a handful of websites masquerading as independent news outlets, publishing claims about the West betraying Ukraine and Ukraine being a failed state.

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Meta also announced a 'Lock Your Profile' tool that allows people to lock their Facebook profile in one step.


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"When someone's profile is locked, people who aren't their friends can't download, enlarge or share their profile photo, nor can they see posts or other photos on someone's profile, regardless of when they posted it," the company said.

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