The German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, a US think tank, is reporting about an obscure network of automated websites spreading pro-Russian disinformation. According to the GMF report:
February 25, 2021 Corona24[.]news, one of the obscure websites pushing disinformation about Ukrainians and the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine, went inactive sometime around late 2020. While live, its operations were suspicious. The website took articles from other sources around the world, including legitimate news outlets, translated the content into English, and republished the text under the banner of “Corona 24 News.” Corona24[.]news published an extremely high volume of articles usually sourced from mainstream news outlets, many from around Europe, and passed them through what appeared to be an automated content delivery system. Yet some of its stories showed slight modifications, including the article from the Lugansk Media Center, which accused the United States of killing Ukrainian service members with a coronavirus vaccine. In total, Corona 24 News published hundreds of thousands of articles, most direct copies of original source material, making these selective modifications to the Lugansk Media Center piece highly unusual.
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The report notes that the website Corona24.news operated as part of a collection of websites all constructed in a similar fashion and published a high volume of largely benign content translated into English, sourced from around the Internet. The sites usually include some reference to “24” in their domain names, although half of them have already gone offline:
- italy24news.com (online)
- de24.news (online)
- fr24news.com (offline)
- en24.news (offline)
- news24.news (offline)
- saudi24news.com (online)
- web24.news (offline)
- football24.news (online)
Past Global Influence Operations Report coverage of coordinated disinformation campaigns includes:
- In March, we discovered that YouTube had been flooded with videos whitewashing China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang.
- In January, we reported that pro-Kremlin media had shifted from Covid-19 disinformation to promoting Russian vaccines.
- In January, we reported that the EU had increased its efforts to combat Russian disinformation.
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