Britain says Russian troll factory spreads disinformation on social media


A person rings the bell outside a burning factory, following a Russian shelling amid the Russian attack on Ukraine, in Kharkiv, Ukraine April 30, 2022. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

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LONDON, May 1 (Reuters) – Britain’s Foreign Office said on Sunday that Russia was using a troll factory to spread disinformation about the war in Ukraine on social media and target politicians in several countries, including Britain. Britain and South Africa.

Britain cited UK-funded expert research, which it did not publish. He said the research revealed how the Kremlin’s disinformation campaign was designed to manipulate international public opinion over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, build support and recruit new sympathizers.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a “special operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

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Russia says Western media provided an overly partial account of the war that largely ignores Moscow’s concerns over NATO expansion and what it says is the persecution of Russian speakers in Ukraine, which kyiv has denied .

“We cannot allow the Kremlin and its shady troll farms to invade our online spaces with their lies about Putin’s illegal war,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

“The UK government has alerted its international partners and will continue to work closely with allies and media platforms to undermine Russian information operations.”

Moscow has denied past accusations by Western countries of disinformation campaigns, for example Washington’s accusation that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.

Britain said research showed the troll factory was using Telegram to recruit and coordinate new supporters who then targeted the social media profiles of Kremlin critics, spamming them with comments supporting President Vladimir Putin and of his war.

Among their targets were senior British ministers and other world leaders, Britain said, adding that traces of the operation had been detected on eight social media platforms, including Telegram, Twitter, Facebook and TikTok.

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Reporting by Kylie MacLellan Editing by Frances Kerry

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