American Big Tech companies such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube restricted or blocked Russian state-run media accounts during the early stages of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These companies reduced their ad sales in Russia and increased their fact-checking efforts.
However, these firms are now unable to keep pace with the evolving Russian propaganda techniques with the war entering its sixth month.
Thousands of tweets, YouTube videos, and other social media posts have been reported as Russian propaganda or anti-Ukrainian hate speech by Ukrainian officials, who claim the companies are now less willing to remove the content.
According to new research provided to The Washington Post by a non-profit organisation based in Europe, many of these requests appear to be going unanswered.
“When it was the first months of the full-scale Russian aggression, [the US tech companies] were very proactive, very interested to help,” Mykola Balaban, deputy head of Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, a government agency, told the Post. “Now, they are avoiding making a call with us.”
Ukraine’s government and its non-profit partners have been monitoring and flagging posts that use derogatory or dehumanising terms for Ukrainians to justify the war as Russian efforts shift away from state media megaphones to individual influencers and “troll armies”.
According to the report, more than 90% of the accounts responsible for such posts were still active as of late June, while up to 70% of the tweets and videos identified as anti-Ukrainian hate speech on YouTube and Twitter were still accessible.
The report also reveals that less than half of the posts that Ukrainian officials highlighted as examples of Russian propaganda justifying the war were removed from LinkedIn.
Even though many of the accounts responsible were still active, Facebook took down all 98 of the posts that the Ukrainian government and its allies had identified as containing anti-Ukrainian hate speech.
Researchers claim Russian authorities and influencers have switched to Telegram to conduct information campaigns via swarms of smaller accounts because huge state media accounts have been blocked or muffled, according to the Post. Pehal News