The Facebook parent company, Meta, says it has uncovered Russian efforts to undermine trust in the Ukrainian government and a separate attempt to hack Ukrainian military officials and journalists using its platform. Said Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta’s head of security policy:
There’s been a lot of speculation and interest on whether there are covert influence operations targeting public debate in Ukraine and to what degree we’re seeing cyber hacking groups targeting individuals in Ukraine. This is a case where we’re seeing both of those things.
Meta says it alerted Twitter and Google who on Monday said they also had removed accounts involved in the campaigns.
Meta described the two campaigns on Facebook as small in scale and caught in the early stages. The first campaign involved a network of about 40 accounts, pages and groups on Facebook and Instagram, operated in Russia and Ukraine. They used fake personas, including computer-generated profile pictures, to masquerade as independent news outlets and posted claims about Ukraine being a failed state.
Meta said it has removed the accounts and blocked the associated websites.
Twitter banned more than a dozen accounts connected to the effort and blocked sharing of links.
Google took down several YouTube channels involved in the campaign, according to Shane Huntley, who leads Google’s Threat Analysis Group.
Meta and Google have blocked some outlets entirely in Ukraine, at the request of the Ukrainian government. On Monday, Meta said it was barring access to the accounts of two of those outlets, RT and Sputnik, for its users in the European Union at the request of local governments and EU officials.