Researchers Discover Russian Disinformation Campaign Dating to 2014
Social media research group Graphika has discovered a Russian-based disinformation campaign that has been using fake news to influence international politics since 2014. The campaign was led by a group known as Secondary Infektion, and Graphika has tracked more than 2,500 pieces of content associated with the disinformation campaign. Read the full report.
According to Graphika, “…[the campaign] appeared primarily aimed at provoking tensions between Russia’s perceived enemies, and its stories typically concerned relationships between governments and often specifically focused on government representatives.” The went on to note that the campaign also targeted presidential candidates in 2016 in the U.S., in 2017 in France, in Germany, Sweden, and elsewhere.
While little is known about Secondary Infektion, their messaging focused on nine main themes:
- Ukraine as a failed state or unreliable partner
- The United States and NATO as aggressive and interfering in other countries
- Europe as weak and divided
- Critics of the Russian government as morally corrupt, alcoholic, or otherwise mentally unstable
- Muslims as aggressive invaders
- The Russian government as the victim of Western hypocrisy or plots
- Western elections as rigged and candidates who criticized the Kremlin as unelectable
- Turkey as an aggressive and destabilizing state
- World sporting bodies and competitions as unfair, unprofessional, and Russophobic
According the report, the campaign was active on Reddit, Medium, Twitter, Quora, Facebook, and YouTube, but blogging forums were the most heavily used outlets. The group would typically post false and politically explosive stories
--often based on images of ‘leaked’ documents that exposed some scandal.
This is yet another example of nation-state groups attempting to use social media to influence global politics. Social media users should be skeptical of any news items that make outrageous claims–even if they appear to have documented evidence–and refer to trusted journalistic sources.