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How The FBI Helps Ukrainian Intelligence Hunt ‘Disinformation’ On Social Media

In an interview, a senior Ukrainian official defined “disinformation” as any news that contradicts his government’s message.

LEE FANG, APR 29, 2023

The Federal Bureau of Investigation pressures Facebook to take down alleged Russian “disinformation” at the behest of Ukrainian intelligence, according to a senior Ukrainian official who corresponds regularly with the FBI. The same official said that Ukrainian authorities define “disinformation” broadly, flagging many social media accounts and posts that he suggested may simply contradict the Ukrainian government’s narrative.

“Once we have a trace or evidence of disinformation campaigns via Facebook or other resources that are from the U.S., we pass this information to the FBI, along with writing directly to Facebook,” said llia Vitiuk, head of the Department of Cyber Information Security in the Security Service of Ukraine………………….

“When people ask me, ‘How do you differentiate whether it is fake or true?’ Indeed it is very difficult in such an informational flow,” said Vitiuk. “I say, ‘Everything that is against our country, consider it a fake, even if it’s not.’ Right now, for our victory, it is important to have that kind of understanding, not to be fooled.”……………………………….

The FBI has elicited scrutiny of late for the influence it exercises over at Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms. A series of reports and congressional hearings delved into the agency’s role in shaping content moderation decisions related to the 2020 election. 

Evidence of FBI pressure on social media companies comes at a time when those companies are already taking proactive steps to hunt down alleged foreign propaganda and fabricated materials. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in Feb. 2022, social media companies have been on the alert for hack and leak operations, fake personas, and other online tricks that might be used by Moscow to sway public opinion around the conflict. But critics charge that in the drive to label and remove content planted by the Russian government, Facebook and other tech firms suppress independent reporting and dissenting views about the war. 

Last week, for instance, Facebook applied limited sharing penalties and a “false information” label to links containing journalist Seymour Hersh’s Substack story alleging NATO involvement in the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline, according to Michael Shellenberger, a writer who extensively covers social media censorship. After public outcry, Facebook modified the label to “partially false.”

It is unclear how much of social media companies’ heavy-handed approach to content moderation is a direct response to government goading. 

But there is enough of a pattern of the FBI and other national security agencies leaning on tech companies to suggest that these tech firms may preemptively adopt censorious practices to avoid the disapproval of the federal government. In October, based on leaked documents from the Department of Homeland Security, I reported on government plans to lean more heavily on social media platforms to take down “disinformation” related to “the nature of U.S. support to Ukraine.”…………………………..



May 1, 2023 - Posted by | media, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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