A Russia-linked hacking group broke into Facebook accounts and posted fake footage of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering, Meta says

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A Russia-linked hacking group broke into Facebook accounts and posted fake footage of Ukrainian soldiers surrendering, Meta says
Ukrainian Army soldiers pose for a photo as they gather to celebrate a Day of Unity in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.Emilio Morenatti/AP
  • Meta said it detected and took down two disinformation campaigns run by people in Russia and Ukraine.
  • One campaign broke into people's Facebook accounts to post fake news about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
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Meta said in a press release Sunday it detected and removed two disinformation campaigns run by groups in Russia and Ukraine.

Russian troops began an invasion of Ukraine on Thursday.

One of the campaigns was being perpetrated by Ghostwriter, a Russia-linked hacking and disinformation group. Meta said Ghostwriter gained access to real people's Facebook accounts where it then posted disinformation.

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"We detected attempts to target people on Facebook to post YouTube videos portraying Ukrainian troops as weak and surrendering to Russia, including one video claiming to show Ukrainian soldiers coming out of a forest while flying a white flag of surrender," Meta said.

Meta said it had placed extra security around targeted accounts and notified users whose accounts were compromised.

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"We also blocked phishing domains these hackers used to try to trick people in Ukraine into compromising their online accounts," Meta said.

The other disinformation campaign used a network of fake accounts belonging to fictitious people claiming to be based in Kyiv.

"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," Meta said.

Meta said the profile pictures for these fake accounts were likely created using a type of AI called generative adversarial networks.

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

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Facebook on Friday released advice for Ukrainian users on how to secure and lock down their accounts.

Russia announced on Friday it would restrict access to Facebook, saying the social media giant had censored state media outlets.

Meta President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg put out a statement saying Russian authorities had asked Meta to stop fact-checking and labelling content put out by state media.

Meta also banned Russian state-media from running ads or making money on its platforms.

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