Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, disabled more than a thousand fake accounts that were spreading numerous comments in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is reported by Radio Liberty with reference to the Meta report.
According to the report, the “trolls” worked every day “with a short break for lunch”, and some of the bots published both pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian comments with a difference of a few minutes.
The investigation began after publications about the bot farm in the Russian media. An article about the “troll factory” coordinated through the “Cyber Front Z” Telegram channel appeared in the “Fontanka” publication. Investigating this data, Meta experts discovered attempts to “spam” posts on social networks Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, VKontakte, and Odnoklassniki.
The Russian bots targeted anyone who publicly condemned the Russian invasion and supported Ukraine. Among them are politicians, journalists, actors and commercial brands from all over the world.
The operation had an overt and covert component, the Meta report said. Open access on the Telegram channel “Cyber Front Z”, which has an audience of over 110,000 readers, posted calls to follow links to accounts or certain posts and leave pro-Russian comments under them. This was also done by fake accounts secretly managed by the “troll factory”.
As a result of the investigation, Meta deleted 45 accounts of “trolls” on the social network Facebook and 1037 – on Instagram and continues to block their attempts to return.
According to the report, the people behind the current operation were linked to the “Internet Research Agency”. In the USA, this bot farm is associated with businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin and accused of interfering in the American elections since 2014.
We will remind, according to the AP&PM Information Aggression Center, about 1,000 Russian professional Internet trolls are currently working against Ukraine, financed by the GRU, FSB or private companies of persons close to the Russian authorities. This is twice as much as in the period from 2014 to the end of 2021, when the activity of about 500 bots was recorded in Ukraine.
In general, according to these data, up to 5 thousand professional trolls promote Russian narratives around the world. Each of them can simultaneously moderate from 30 to 50 accounts in different social networks. This amounts to 150 – 250 thousand working accounts, their information coverage becomes 75 – 125 million contacts.