US media is reporting that Facebook has banned a Russian disinformation network that claimed coronavirus vaccines turn people into chimpanzees. According to a Washington Post article:
August 11, 2021, Facebook has removed hundreds of accounts it said were part of a disinformation campaign largely run out of Russia that also used social media influencers to peddle fake claims about coronavirus vaccines, including that some shots could turn people into chimpanzees. Investigators said they traced the campaign’s origins to Fazze, a subsidiary of a U.K.-registered marketing firm whose operations were primarily conducted from Russia. According to a report published Tuesday by the social media company, the operation “targeted audiences primarily in India, Latin America and, to a much lesser extent, the United States.” Facebook called the anti-vaccine campaign a “disinformation laundromat,” whose efforts spanned Reddit, Medium, and Change.org, as well as Facebook and its sister platform Instagram, where fake accounts were said to have amplified disinformation. The company said that influencers on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok were also asked to post misleading content and use certain hashtags.
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In May, we reported that Fazze, a Russia-linked PR agency, offered money to social media influencers in France and Germany to spread disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines. Other GIOR reporting on Russian disinformation efforts has included:
- In July, we reported on Russian attempts to capitalize on the recent growing controversy in the US over so-called “Critical Race Theory,” with Russian media claiming Americans want to move to Russia to escape US school curriculums.
- In July, we reported that actors linked to Russian disinformation operations are targeting American far-right audiences on alternative online platforms.
- In May, we reported that pro-Kremlin media outlets were using the tense situation at the Russian-Ukrainian border to spread narratives targeting the annual NATO exercises along with Ukraine.