The conflict in Ukraine has caused global angst by putting the world’s military superpowers at loggerheads, potentially leading to one of the biggest conflicts in decades.
But, unlike similar incidents in the past, the conflict in Ukraine is taking place in the age of social networks, which means much faster coverage, but also includes hoaxes, memes, disinformation and fake news that are spread every day . add to the maelstrom of information that can confuse or distort what is really happening in this region.
Due to the huge role that social networks are playing in the conflict in Ukraine, platforms must work quickly to limit any misuse of their portals, and in fact many of them have been enacted in order to mitigate certain elements of misuse and disinformation. 5 novelties that will star in the future of Linkedin.
Meta takes strict measures against disinformation
Without a doubt, among the large companies that are at the center of information on the conflict in Ukraine, Facebook is one of the most important: with around 70 million users in Russia and 24 million in Ukraine, the impact could not be less , since in both cases it represents approximately half of the total population of each nation respectively.
That is why late last week the Russian government announced it would restrict access to Facebook, due to Meta’s refusal to remove misinformation warning labels from state-affiliated media outlets. Meta has taken that action a step further by also banning ads from Russian state media, severely limiting the ability of Russian authorities to use Facebook as an information hub.
Facebook also removed a Russian network that spread fake news about the conflict in Ukraine: according to Facebook, this network was made up of some 40 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups, with fake profiles that included photos created by AI. Meta claims that it had attracted less than 4,000 followers on Facebook and less than 500 on Instagram.
” It’s a sign that while these actors are trying to run these kinds of influence operations, they get caught earlier and don’t reach the audiences they would have reached even a few years ago ,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, director of security policy at Meta. .
Another of the meta actions relates to user profiles: Ukrainians can choose new security features including “the ability to lock your Facebook profile, remove the ability to view and search friend lists,” among other tools.
The big platforms unite around the conflict in Ukraine
The European Union also announced that it will ban the media outlets Russia Today and Sputnik, two of the most controversial in recent years, having been repeatedly linked to fake news.
” The state-owned companies Russia Today and Sputnik, as well as their subsidiaries, will no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war, and see the division in our union ,” EU President Ursula von der Leyen said . “We are developing tools to ban their toxic and harmful disinformation in Europe.”
In fact, Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market, and Vera Jourova, Commissioner for Values and Transparency, spoke to Google managers urging them to intensify their efforts against Russian propaganda, and the Mountain View giant is already taking action on the matter.
Thus, YouTube is also removing these Russian state channels from content recommendations , limiting the reach of their content across the platform.
“As always, our teams continue to closely monitor developments, including assessing what new sanctions and export controls may mean for YouTube ,” the social network said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
Additionally, Google announced that it has also demonetized Russian-backed channels. Of the sanctioned channels, Russia Today appears to attract the most views on YouTube, where its main channel has around 4.65 million subscribers.
Google disables Maps data in Ukraine
One more step by the internet giant relates to traffic data: Google Maps has temporarily disabled traffic features on its platform in order to protect citizens in Ukraine while their country is invaded by Russia.
there are unusual traffic jams, as happened at the beginning of last Thursday on the border between Russia and Ukraine.
Twitter has banned more than a dozen accounts on its platform
Although Twitter has always been characterized by trying to guarantee an optimal flow of information in real time, Twitter is also a great source of false profiles, fake news and misinformation. That is why the microblogging social network has announced a temporary ban on all ads in Ukraine and Russia “to ensure that critical public safety information is uploaded and ads do not detract from it.”
The social network has also promised to review user content proactively to detect the manipulation of information, and take action against misleading content.
“ On February 27th, we permanently suspended over a dozen accounts and blocked multiple link exchanges in violation of our spam and platform handling policy. Our investigation is ongoing; however, our initial findings indicate that the accounts and links originated from Russia and were attempting to disrupt the public conversation about the ongoing conflict in Ukraine,” a Twitter spokesperson said .
TikTok, in the midst of the conflict
In recent years TikTok has become a powerhouse among social networks, and its vast reach is also now a headache for its moderation teams as there are groups using its platform to spread misinformation, in an environment where that thousands of related videos are uploaded every moment on his social network, many of them fake.
In fact, the introduction of the monetization model for popular micro videos has added a new motivation for these disinformation actors to create fake live streams in a bid to attract viewers, while users in Ukraine use TikTok to communicate the location of Russian troops to Ukrainian fighters.
While TikTok has so far not made any official comment on the conflict in Ukraine, nor how it will moderate its platform. Bytedance, its parent, is based in China and may not take an official stance .
However, social pressure, such as on Twitter in this thread created by NBCNews reporter Ben Collins in which he points to the “disinformation war” currently plaguing TikTok around the conflict in Ukraine, could force TikTok to take action. definitive.
Social networks and the plague of hoaxes in relation to the conflict in Ukraine
Of course, social networks by themselves will not be able to filter all the information that reaches their portals, and while the war continues on Ukrainian soil, cyberspace will have to fight its own war against disinformation.
Among the main hoaxes that have been debunked is a video showing how Ukrainian flags are waved while the country’s anthem plays. As they explain from maldita.es, although this video was recorded in Ukraine on February 23, 2022 , the rumor has spread that it is a video from 2014.
One more of the hoaxes that circulates is a video of an alleged bombing in Ukrainian territory, with a message that states that “it is not a movie or a video game, but real images of the bombing of Ukraine by Russia.” However, the images correspond to the video game War Thunder, taken from a video uploaded to YouTube in 2021.
If you have received a message creating an alert about fires near Chernobyl due to the current war, I am afraid to tell you that you have fallen for a hoax: this message is spread as if it were current, however, the photo is from April 2020.
In #UkraineFacts you can see in which countries each disinformation has been detected, in addition to accessing the denials by the different verification organizations that have investigated them.