Chronology: disinformation in social networks about the crisis in Ukraine | In deep

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The war in cyberspace began long before Russia's special military operation for the defense of Donbas in Ukraine, and may continue long after the end of the crisis is reached.


UN holds talks between Russia and Ukraine

The use of the Internet can be considered one of the most powerful weapons of the 21st century, because it directly attacks the most powerful part of the human being: the mind.

The false sense of democratization of information and empowerment provided, above all, by social networks and complex mechanisms, methodologies and algorithmic handling add up to create, reproduce and multiply a distorted image of reality.

Below are some facts detailing how the situation between Russia and Ukraine turns into a screen conflict.


February 24th: Russia's special military operation in Ukraine began, however, the day before some radar images and traffic jam data from Google Maps on the border between the two countries were leaked from the United States. This notification placed an alert about an alleged assault.

February 25: Facebook (Meta) enabled a feature that allows Ukrainian users to lock their account and only their friends can see their profile picture or download, share their posts. It also temporarily disabled the visibility of the friends lists of Ukrainian users.

Meta also created a special operations center staffed by experts, including Russians and Ukrainians, to constantly monitor the flow of information from that area.

That day, the media reported "cyber attacks" from Russia against Ukrainian institutions and banks, where the alleged hackers did not even bother to hide their location.

The counterpart hired cybersecurity experts to attack Russian targets. The well-known hacker group, Anonymous, also supported the action against Moscow-run institutions and the Belarusian arms manufacturer Tetraedr.

At the same time, the Google Store recorded a significant rise in downloads of Internet calling and offline walkie-talkie applications from Ukraine.

February 27: The head of Urban Warfare Studies at the Institute of Modern Warfare at the US Military Academy, John Spencer, published on his Twitter account a guide on how Ukrainian civilians could face a regular army and intimidate Moscow troops. .

According to data exposed by foreign media, the tweet was quickly translated into Ukrainian and viewed more than 10 million times.

That day, the Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point released a report indicating that cyberattacks against Ukrainian targets increased by 196 percent, while against Russian spaces the rise was 4 percent.

For its part, the social network Twitter blocked more than a dozen accounts that were allegedly linked to a Russian propaganda operation.

February 28th: Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov called on "all major cryptocurrency exchanges to block addresses of Russian users," and urged companies like Visa, Mastercard, Viber and Paypal to stop offering some services in Russia. In response to this, the DMarket platform froze accounts of Belarusian and Russian users.

Twitter continued its actions against media outlets and journalists allegedly affiliated with Moscow and placed labels on their accounts. In addition, it marks profiles of freelance journalists who have provided services to Russian companies or branches.

At the same time, Meta blocked Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik outlets in the European Union (EU), claiming that the decision was made at the request of the bloc.

The president of the European Commission, Úrsula von der Leyen, pointed out in this sense that Russia will not be able to spread its "harmful disinformation" in the region.

YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi reported that the company removed several channels allegedly linked to a Russian influence operation. However, these have a very low number of subscribers.

In addition, a Facebook spokesperson said Russia used "computer-generated faces" to bolster the credibility of "fake columnists" on various digital platforms.


March 1: The information of a Ukrainian pilot who shot down six Russian planes is spread, it was even shared on the official networks of the Government of Ukraine and its Ministry of Defense, using images from a video game.

Subsequently, the company that owns the video game (DCS) demanded on their networks that they not use it to simulate war actions.

The Ukrainian Ministry of the Interior itself has used the internet to spread videos and images of alleged Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine, in order to promote dissidence in Russia.

On the other hand, Facebook users followed live, for more than six hours, alleged Russian bombardments against Ukrainian populations; but this was only about the ArmA3 video game. The "aggression" was seen by more than 178,000 people simultaneously.

Spanish users protested on networks against Real Televisión Española (RTVE) for publishing a report in which the flag of Ukrainian ultranationalism appears, whose insignia was created by Stephan Bandera, who justified the murder of millions of Jews during World War II.

For its part, Google Europe announced that, in the face of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine, "we are blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik throughout Europe, with immediate effect."

March 2: Internet outages were reported in Ukraine. Outages occurred at provider Kyivstar, approximately 500 base antennas disabled due to infrastructure and power damage,

March 3rd: A Spanish media published 66 hoaxes and disinformation about Russia and Ukraine, which have circulated after the start of the special military operation, but many of them are not current or come from that country.

According to The Times of London, England, he quoted statements from the editor-in-chief of the Storyful agency, Darren Davidson, a company hired to supervise TikTok videos about the crisis in Ukraine.

In less than a week, more than 300 videos were deleted. At least 50 journalists are in charge of verifying the authenticity of these audiovisual materials, separating the images of previous conflicts, propaganda and video games, from those that are real.

March 4: The Russian authorities reiterated their denunciation of media campaigns to distort information about the special military operation in defense of Donbas.

Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations (UN), Vasili Nebenzia, denounced that Ukrainian nationalists carried out the sabotage to create a scandal over a fire in an area near the Zaporizhia nuclear plant.

Images are spread on social networks pointing to Russian troops, while Ukrainian government authorities support this information.

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