Feb 24, 2023 - Technology

Russian disinformation shies away from Facebook: Report

Illustration of the Ukrainian flag in the shape of a thought bubble

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Russian disinformation campaigns have become less successful on a platform once near and dear to the Kremlin: Facebook.

Driving the news: Meta said in a quarterly threat report released Thursday that Russian state media outlets had "significantly reduced their activity on our platforms" during the first year of the war, instead turning to alternatives like Telegram.

  • Meta attributed this to new measures the company implemented at the beginning of the war limiting the reach of Russian state-sponsored media.
  • Russian influence campaigns also lacked their typical sophistication. Instead, they followed what Meta called a "smash-and-grab" playbook and created as many accounts as possible to avoid detection.

Between the lines: "This activity bears a closer resemblance to what you might see from a spammer's playbook rather than the more stealthy and sophisticated Russian influence operations we've disrupted in the past," Nathaniel Gleicher, Meta's head of security policy, said during a call with reporters this week.

Catch up quick: Historically, the Russian government had relied heavily on Meta's platforms, Facebook and Instagram, to spread disinformation about current events.

Details: In the report, Meta said it took down two disinformation networks focused on the war in Ukraine over the last year. Both primarily targeted users inside Ukraine.

  • The two campaigns — dubbed "Cyber Front Z" and "Doppelganger" — had more accounts, groups and pages tied to them than any other campaigns Meta had disrupted since 2017.

The intrigue: Gleicher expects Russian entities to keep adjusting their disinformation techniques to try to evade Meta's crackdown.

  • "We would expect them to keep trying to adjust their tactics to try to find an approach and to shift away from our platforms as they get caught more," he said.

Sign up for Axios’ cybersecurity newsletter Codebook here.

Go deeper