Listen to 97.3 KIRO Newsradio: NOW! Seahawks vs. Raiders gameday coverage

Experts: Russia finding new ways to spread propaganda videos

Oct 4, 2022, 6:01 PM | Updated: Oct 5, 2022, 6:18 am
FILE - A Russian military convoy is seen on the road toward the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station,...

FILE - A Russian military convoy is seen on the road toward the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station, in Enerhodar, Zaporizhzhia region, in territory under Russian military control, southeastern Ukraine, on May 1, 2022. Russia has devised yet another way to spread disinformation about its invasion of Ukraine, using digital tricks that allow its war propaganda videos to evade restrictions imposed by governments and tech companies. (AP Photo/File)

(AP Photo/File)

Russia has devised yet another way to spread disinformation about its invasion of Ukraine, using digital tricks that allow its war propaganda videos to evade restrictions imposed by governments and tech companies.

Accounts linked to Russian state-controlled media have used the new method to spread dozens of videos in 18 different languages, all without leaving telltale signs that would give away the source, researchers at Nisos, a U.S.-based intelligence firm that tracks disinformation and other cyber threats, said in a report released Wednesday.

The videos push Kremlin conspiracy theories blaming Ukraine for civilian casualties as well as claims that residents of areas forcibly annexed by Russia have welcomed their occupiers.

English-language versions of the Russian propaganda videos are now circulating on Twitter and lesser-known platforms popular with American conservatives, including Gab and Truth Social, created by former President Donald Trump, giving Russia a direct conduit to millions of people.

In an indication of the Kremlin’s ambitions and the sprawling reach of its disinformation operations, versions of the videos were also created in Spanish, Italian, German and more than a dozen other languages.

“The genius of this approach is that the videos can be downloaded directly from Telegram and it erases the trail that researchers try to follow,” Nisos’ senior intelligence analyst Patricia Bailey told The Associated Press. “They are creative and adaptable. And they are analyzing their audience.”

The European Union moved to ban RT and Sputnik, two of Russia’s leading state-run media outlets, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Tech companies such as Google’s YouTube and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram also announced they would ban content from the outlets within the 27-nation EU, undermining Russia’s ability to spread its propaganda.

Russian attempts to get around the new rules began almost immediately. New websites were created to host videos that make debunked claims about the war. Russian diplomats took on some of the work.

The latest effort revealed by analysts at Nisos involved uploading propaganda videos to Telegram, a loosely moderated platform that is broadly popular in Eastern Europe and used by many conservatives in the United States. In some cases, watermarks identifying the video as RT’s were removed in a further attempt to disguise their source.

Once on Telegram, the videos were downloaded and reposted on platforms including Twitter without indications that the video was produced by Russian state media. Hundreds of accounts that later posted or reposted the videos were linked by Nisos researchers to the Russian military, embassies or state media.

Some of the accounts appeared to use fake profile photos or posted content in strange ways that suggested they were inauthentic.

One example: a Twitter account supposedly run by a woman living in Japan that had a singular interest in Russian propaganda. Instead of posting about a variety of topics such as entertainment, food, travel or family, the account user only posted Russian propaganda videos — and not just in Japanese, but also in Farsi, Polish, Spanish and Russian.

The account also cited or reposted content from Russian embassies hundreds of times, researchers found, showing again the close relationship between Russian diplomats and the country’s propaganda work.

When it comes to Russia’s overall disinformation capabilities, Bailey said, the network is “just one piece of a puzzle that is quite large.”

Last week, Russia sought to spread a baseless conspiracy theory blaming the U.S. for sabotage to the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

The same week, Meta announced the discovery of a sprawling Russian disinformation network that created websites designed to look like major European news outlets. Instead of news, the websites carried propaganda intended to drive a wedge between Ukraine and its western allies.

That operation was the largest of its kind to originate in Russia since the war began, researchers concluded.

“The network exhibited an overarching pattern of targeting Europe with anti-Ukraine narratives and expressions of support for Russian interests,” according to a report from the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, which helped identify the network disabled by Meta.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Balloon and a Teddy bear adorn a memorial for teenager Fernando Chavez-Barron, Friday, Nov. 25, 202...
Associated Press

Walmart shooting claims teen, young woman, father, mother

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (AP) — A 16-year-old helping his family. A custodian and father of two. A mother with wedding plans. A happy-go-lucky guy. A longtime employee. That’s how friends and family described some of the six people killed at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, when a manager opened fire with a handgun before an employee […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Officers: Wellness check leads to fatal shooting in Florida

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — A police officer fatally shot a man early Sunday while conducting a wellness check at a home in St. Petersburg, officials said. Just before 4 a.m. Sunday, St. Petersburg police officers responded to a report of a hit and run. Officers found the bumper of the suspect’s car at the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Jon Batiste attends the TIME100 Gala celebrating the 100 most influential people in the worl...
Associated Press

Jon Batiste to sing for Macron at Biden’s 1st state dinner

NANTUCKET, Mass. (AP) — Musician Jon Batiste is on tap to perform at President Joe Biden’s first White House state dinner on Thursday, highlighting long-standing ties between the United States and France and honoring President Emmanuel Macron. “An artist who transcends generations, Jon Batiste’s music inspires and brings people together,” said Vanessa Valdivia, a spokesperson […]
1 day ago
Fans from the United States cheer for their team during the World Cup group B soccer match between ...
Associated Press

US-England World Cup game seen by 19.98M on US television

NEW YORK (AP) — The United States’ 0-0 draw against England in the World Cup drew 19.98 million viewers for English- and Spanish-language broadcasts, the third-most watched men’s soccer game on U.S. television. The match, which kicked off at 2 p.m. EST on Friday, was seen by 15,377,000 viewers on Fox, the most for a […]
1 day ago
FILE - Chickens walk in a fenced pasture at an organic farm in Iowa on Oct. 21, 2015. Nebraska agri...
Associated Press

Bird flu prompts slaughter of 1.8M chickens in Nebraska

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska agriculture officials say another 1.8 million chickens must be killed after bird flu was found on a farm in the latest sign that the outbreak that has already prompted the slaughter of more than 50 million birds nationwide continues to spread. The Nebraska Department of Agriculture said Saturday that the […]
1 day ago
FILE - Dua Lipa attends the Clooney Foundation for Justice Albie Awards at The New York Public Libr...
Associated Press

Music superstar Dua Lipa granted Albanian citizenship

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Albania’s president on Sunday granted citizenship to British pop star of Albanian origin Dua Lipa for what he said was the artist’s role in spreading Albanians’ fame internationally through her music. President Bajram Begaj said Lipa was granted citizenship ahead of Albania’s 110th anniversary of independence from the Ottoman Empire. Begaj […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Experts: Russia finding new ways to spread propaganda videos