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US Says Russian-Backed Online Media Spreading Covid Vaccine Disinformation

March 9th, 2021 15:17

Reuters is report­ing that the US has iden­ti­fied three online pub­li­ca­tions direct­ed by Russia’s intel­li­gence ser­vices it says are try­ing to under­mine Covid-19 vac­cines pro­duced by Pfiz­er and Mod­er­na. Accord­ing to the report:

March 9, 2021 The Unit­ed States has iden­ti­fied three online pub­li­ca­tions direct­ed by Russia’s intel­li­gence ser­vices that it says are seek­ing to under­mine Covid-19 vac­cines pro­duced by Pfiz­er and Mod­er­na, a State Depart­ment spokes­woman said on Sun­day. The out­lets “spread many types of dis­in­for­ma­tion, includ­ing about both the Pfiz­er and Mod­er­na vac­cines, as well as inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions, mil­i­tary con­flicts, protests, and any divi­sive issue that they can exploit,” the spokes­woman said. The Wall Street Jour­nal (WSJ) first report­ed on the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the alleged cam­paign on Sun­day. A Krem­lin spokesman denied the U.S. claim Rus­sia was spread­ing false infor­ma­tion about vac­cines to the WSJ.Russia’s embassy in Wash­ing­ton did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for com­ment. Rus­sia approved its Sput­nik V vac­cine in August, before a large-scale tri­al had begun, say­ing it was the first coun­try to do so for a Covid-19 shot. Peer-reviewed tri­als months lat­er proved it was almost 92% effec­tive in fight­ing the virus.

Read the rest here.

Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ing on var­i­ous state actor COVID infor­ma­tion cam­paigns has included:

  • A report from Octo­ber 2020 on a US Depart­ment of Home­land Secu­ri­ty analy­sis con­clud­ing that Chi­nese oper­a­tives were prob­a­bly wag­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns using overt and covert tactics—including social media trolls— to shift respon­si­bil­i­ty for the pan­dem­ic to oth­er coun­tries, includ­ing the Unit­ed States.
  • A report from Novem­ber 2020 that the UK’s Sig­nal Intel­li­gence Agency was prepar­ing to launch a “major offen­sive cyber oper­a­tion against state-spon­sored pro­pa­gan­da aimed at under­min­ing research on the COVID-19 vaccine.”
  • A report from Jan­u­ary on a New York Times and ProP­ub­li­ca inves­ti­ga­tion into state-spon­sored Chi­nese dis­in­for­ma­tion efforts cen­tered on the Covid pandemic.
  • A report from Jan­u­ary on a CNN analyst’s view of Russ­ian efforts to spread COVID-relat­ed disinformation.
  • A report from Jan­u­ary on an EU analy­sis con­clud­ing that pro-Krem­lin media are try­ing to gen­er­ate sup­port for the Russ­ian Sput­nik V COVID vac­cine by shift­ing its dis­in­for­ma­tion narratives.
  • A report from Feb­ru­ary on an Aus­tralian think-tank’s analy­sis of Chi­nese and Russ­ian influ­ence cam­paigns aimed at under­min­ing the Covid-19 vac­ci­na­tion programs.
  • A report from  Feb­ru­ary con­clud­ing that Chi­na was the lead­ing actor using dis­in­for­ma­tion to con­trol the nar­ra­tive around the ori­gins of the COVID-19 virus.