The US State Department has developed an AI-based online tool to counter Russian disinformation on the Ukraine war.
The Ukraine Content Aggregator will collect “verifiable Russian disinformation” and share it with partner nations, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last week.
“Russia continues to push a steady, relentless stream of disinformation about its war of aggression against Ukraine, to lie about and cover up horrific abuses it’s committed, to try to justify committing others,” he said at the Freedom House 2023 Annual Awards Ceremony.
“We’re promoting independent media and digital literacy. We’re working with partners in academia to reliably detect fake text generated by Russian chatbots.”
Longstanding Disinformation Narratives
The war saw an escalation in Russia’s longstanding disinformation narratives against Ukraine, including Russia’s claim that Crimea always belonged to Moscow, and that Kyiv has been infiltrated by neo-Nazis or conspiracy theories about Ukraine/US bioweapons laboratories.
According to NewsGuard, Russia’s state-controlled broadcaster RT’s documentary site published 50 films on the war in one year — nearly one a week — that pushed the propaganda.
The films use footage of civilian casualties caused by Russian strikes spun to make it seem Ukraine is behind it.
Many of the documentaries reached YouTube, garnering over half a million views combined, wrote the journalism and technology tool that tracks online misinformation.
Exploiting Anti-Colonial Sentiments
Russia’s influence information has particularly targeted Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, trying to tap into their anti-colonial sentiments to stir up distrust of Western governments, NPR wrote.
“There’s been a major focus on non-English-language information,” the head of research at Logically, a company that tracks online misinformation and disinformation, Kyle Walter, told the outlet.
“They’re broadly going across the spectrum, both to try to change their opinions of the invasion, but also to position themselves as a better strategic partner moving forward.”