During the annexation of Crimea, Russia exploited the rules of Facebook to remove pro-Ukrainian comments and gain an advantage in the information space, according to MSNBC referring to the publication by The Daily Beast.
According to MSNBC, Russian special services searched for the postings of pro-Ukrainian activists in the social network and reported them to Facebook admins as inappropriate, claiming that they contained pornography or other prohibited content.
Such flagging was a systemic work and complaints were sent hundreds of times, which led to the blocking of the accounts. ” Russian information warfare operators were using a surprisingly effective technique on Facebook to clear Ukrainian voices off of social media, so the Russians wouldn`t have any competition for the information space while it was invading that neighboring country,” the report says, adding that the case is a “good reminder of how Russia fights using information warfare, alongside real world tangible tactics like blowing up ammunition depots and invading and seizing neighboring territory.”
The report also says that the Ukrainian president, realizing the scope of the problem, has supported the activists and raised the issue with Facebook asking its executives to consider creating an office in Ukraine to deal with the problem of Russian operatives taking Ukrainian voices off of social media. However, “Facebook laughed off that request.”
Former aide to the Secretary of State on strategic digital technology Moira Whelan confirmed the report on Twitter:
“This is 100% accurate. Many of us inside of the State Department tried to help our colleagues in Ukraine, Georgia and elsewhere. Facebook was simply unresponsive.”