Fake TikTok Accounts Spread Disinformation on Russia-Ukraine War

         

Millions of users were targeted with disinformation on Russia’s war in Ukraine through fake TikTok accounts, amplifying pro-Russian narratives and spreading false claims about Ukrainian officials and the military.

The Spread of Disinformation

It has been revealed that fake TikTok accounts have been spreading disinformation about Russia’s war in Ukraine to millions of people. According to new data from TikTok, the video-sharing platform was used to target Ukrainian and Russian users, as well as many across Europe, with content that aimed to amplify pro-Russian narratives about the war.

Fictitious News Outlets and False Claims

Some of the fake accounts were falsely presented as news outlets, while a separate BBC investigation uncovered 800 fake accounts that spread false claims targeting European countries. These claims included allegations about senior Ukrainian officials and their relatives buying luxury cars or villas abroad after Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

TikTok’s Response and Removal of Fake Accounts

TikTok has stated that it had already started investigating the fake accounts prior to the BBC’s findings, and all identified fake accounts have since been removed. A TikTok spokesperson emphasized the company’s commitment to pursuing those engaging in deceptive behaviors and influencing the platform’s community.

Geographical Operation and Amplification of Narratives

The majority of the fake accounts, approximately 13,000, were operated from within Russia and targeted users in Ukraine, Russia, and several European countries with pro-Kremlin war propaganda. However, some identified accounts operated from Ukraine were found to be amplifying narratives aimed at raising money for the Ukrainian military.

Magnitude of Influence and International Pressure

TikTok reported that the combined followers of these fake accounts exceeded one million. The platform has been under international pressure to address the spread of false information, and the recent findings add to previous reports of fake pro-Russia accounts detected by TikTok.

Global Response to Information Warfare

These revelations come in the wake of the U.K. government’s accusation against Russia for engaging in a sustained campaign of malicious cyber activity to undermine British democracy. The growing concern over information warfare and disinformation has put social media platforms, including TikTok, under scrutiny to take action against false users and deceptive content.

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