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Russian Disinformation Network Claims Covid Vaccine Turns People Into Chimpanzees

August 17th, 2021 13:12

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.

Read the rest here.

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.