International media is reporting how the Russian invasion of Ukraine is shaping up to be Europe’s first major armed conflict of the social media age, with users being bombarded with propaganda and fake news. According to an Associated Press report:
February 25, 2022 The messages, videos and photos flying across Twitter, Facebook and Telegram far outnumber the airstrikes raining down on Ukraine. They claim to show Russian fighter jets being shot down or Ukrainians dodging for cover in their own homes. Some are real, horrifying images of this war. Others had been lurking on the internet for years before Russia launched the largest attack on a European country since World War II. The invasion of Ukraine is shaping up to be Europe’s first major armed conflict of the social media age, when the small screen of the smartphone is the dominant tool of communication, carrying with it the peril of an instantaneous spread of dangerous, even deadly, disinformation. TikTok videos, propagandized headlines and tweets pinging out across screens around the world are confusing millions about the reality of how this battle is unfolding on the ground. Across Telegram and Twitter, Russia’s attack on Ukraine was both “unprovoked” and “necessary,” depending on the sender of the message.
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The AP report notes that over the last few days, Putin and Russian media have ramped up false accusations that Ukrainians are committing genocide and mischaracterizing the majority of the country’s population as Nazis.
The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) reported yesterday that the European Commission announced a ban on Russian state-backed media outlets so they will “no longer be able to spread their lies to justify Putin’s war.”