California: Meta on Monday said a hacking group based out of Belarus had used Facebook to hack social media accounts of several prominent Ukrainians to spread pro-Russian propaganda.
The Ukrainians targeted were journalists, military personnel and local public officials.
According to NBC News, the hacking group, Ghostwriter, used compromised email accounts and passwords to log into their Facebook profiles and then post a video of what they said was a Ukrainian waving a white flag of surrender.
The Facebook and Twitter have removed two-anti-Ukrainian “covert influence operations” during the weekend. Among them one had links to Russia and another with Belarus.
Facebook further said it has taken down 40 profiles tied to the disinformation operation, saying the profiles were a small part of a larger persona-building operation that spread across Twitter, Instagram, Telegram and Russian social networks, NBC News reported NBC News quoted Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta’s head of security policy, as saying that the larger of the two disinformation groups operated in Russia, as well as the Russian-dominated Donbas and Crimea regions of Ukraine and it is tied to the websites News Front and South Front, which the US government has designated as part of a broader disinformation effort that had connections to Russian intelligence.
In an interview, he said that the propaganda campaign was able to “seed stories across the internet that Ukraine isn’t doing well” by “pretending to be journalists based in Kyiv.”
He said, “The good news is that neither of these campaigns have been that effective, but we do see these actors trying to target Ukraine at this point. These actors are trying to undermine trust in the Ukrainian government, suggest that it’s a failed state, suggest that the war is going very poorly in Ukraine or trying to praise Russia.”
Meanwhile, Twitter has banned over dozen accounts tied to the News Front and South Front Russian operation, which were pushing links to a new propaganda site called Ukraine Today.
“On February 27, we permanently suspended more than a dozen accounts and blocked sharing of several links in violation of our platform manipulation and spam policy. Our investigation is ongoing; however, our initial findings indicate that the accounts and links originated in Russia and were attempting to disrupt the public conversation around the ongoing conflict in Ukraine,” a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement.