Moscow hits back as online giants take steps to stem misinformation

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Several U.S. tech giants have moved to stem disinformation and Russian government funding as tanks roll into Ukraine, drawing anger from Moscow and praise for the “late” action from Western observers.

On Saturday, YouTube announced it would stop advertising payments to “several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions”, among other things, “in light of the extraordinary circumstances in Ukraine”.

Always Saturday, Twitter reported that Moscow was at least partially blocking access for Russian users, who used the platform to share information about the progress of the invasion.

These followed the Russian telecommunications agency’s announcement on Friday that it had begun restricting Russian users’ access to Facebook, which officials said had refused to stop labeling users. false information published by four government-affiliated sites.

Disinformation watchdogs have complained for years that social media and tech companies such as Alphabet-owned Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not doing enough to keep Kremlin-backed disinformation off their sites. But those calls took on a new urgency after the attack on Ukraine began.

Peter Singer, senior researcher at New America and author of the book like war, said the move was “the right thing, years overdue, which is a recurring pattern for businesses”.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital minister, publicly pressured social media giants and other tech companies to do more to control Kremlin-based media operating on their platforms.

Saturday he announcement that “Twitter has just taken the decision to block Russians from registering new accounts in the Russian Federation.”

defense one has contacted Twitter for independent confirmation and will update when more information becomes available.

Twitter did Tweeter that he was suffering a break from service in Russia. “We are aware that Twitter is restricted for certain people in Russia and we strive to keep our service safe and accessible,” they said.

The NetBlocks Traffic Monitoring Group reported “Live metrics show Twitter has been restricted on multiple providers in Russia.”

Saturday, Meta announcement that it would also prevent Russian state media from running ads and monetizing on Meta-owned platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, Reported NetBlocks isolated and sporadic internet outages in cities like Kyiv and Kharkovbut overall, Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine have been far less severe than many feared.

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the the wall street journal Friday that “In briefings and conversations I’ve had with U.S. intelligence, military leaders, and cyber experts, I think we were surprised that Russia didn’t go and put some of its best tools in place.”

But this does not mean that the Russians do not try to use the tools available in the conflict. Observers online said Russian soldiers used microtasking tools like Premise to geolocate Ukrainian assets to target, essentially paying users to locate things like ports, medical facilities, bridges and explosion craters.

Premise responded by calling the claims “unequivocally false”, but said they were suspending operations in Ukraine out of an abundance of caution.

Meanwhile various reports indicate that some Russian state websites were also inaccessible after a DDOS attack.

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