Nov 1, 2017

Ukraine says it told Facebook about Russia's "information war" in 2015

Top lawyers for Google, Twitter, and Facebook (from left to right) testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Photo: Andrew Harnik / AP

The head of Ukraine's presidential administration, Dmytro Shymkiv, told the Financial Times that his country's government warned Facebook and U.S. officials in 2015 that Russia was using "aggressive behavior" to spread disinformation on social media in an "information war." Shymkiv said Facebook's response was that they're an "open platform" that allows everyone to communicate.

Why it matters: The Ukrainian assertions suggest that Russian fake news was detected much earlier than the tech giants have so far let on. Axios reported yesterday that a former FBI agent had detected Russia's use of fake news and automated bots in 2014. The investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and big tech's role has come to a head this week with interrogations of Google, Twitter and Facebook by both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.

Facebook's defense:

  • Richard Allen, Facebook's vice president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa said the conversations the team had with the Ukrainian government in 2014 and 2015 were about Facebook's "handling of reports by Russians to get Ukrainian content taken down from our platform, not about fake news or attempts to spread messages."
  • He added that the reported behavior they observed "bore no resemblance" to information operations they saw in connection to the 2016 election.
  • "The Ukrainian government has more recently raised the issue of fake news with us but this was only in 2017 after the U.S. election," he said.

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,428,605 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,179,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.