Russia-Ukraine war disinformation spreading online as experts say to seek credible sources

Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms are battling to remove Russian disinformation accounts targeting Ukrainians, and experts at Arizona State say it's something they're watching closely.

They want those scrolling online to be on the lookout for false information being spread on social media and websites.

With online news spreading so quickly over the war, and things changing by the minute, experts say it's hard to really get a good grasp of everything that's happening, but they want to warn you that disinformation is spreading and to only use reliable resources before reading or sharing them.

"This kind of disinformation can be a useful weapon," says Dr. Jacob Lassin with Arizona State.

Facebook, Twitter, Apple and other tech companies are under increasing pressure to crack down on disinformation being spread online, mainly from Russian hackers, they say, about the war in Ukraine.

‘Take the time to look at the source’

Lassin says with digital devices making information accessible in the palm of a hand, it’s also made spreading disinformation worse, too.

"What’s really important is that people take the time to look at the source to figure out kind of where things are coming from," Lassin advised.

Facebook’s parent company Meta said on Monday it has caught dozens of fake, pro-Russian accounts, groups and pages across its platforms that are trying to spread anti-Ukrainian propaganda. Experts say it’s an attempt to divert attention from the war that rages on.

"Part of waging warfare these days involves getting certain narratives across, getting certain people to support your cause, because you know without the support of other countries, of people around the world, it’s going to be very difficult for Russia to operate with only you know Belarus as the only ally in all of this," Lassin said.

Experts say pro-Russian hackers are also trying to compromise social media accounts of journalists, military leaders and government officials. Heavily controlled Russian news outlets are also being blamed.

Facebook and Tiktok said that they'll shut down access to Kremlin-controlled media sites in Europe.

"Even within Russia, they’re not calling it a war still. They’re referring to it as a special operation. They have not admitted to the deaths of any Russian soldiers, really. They have not told people the extent of things," Lassin said.

Experts warn that Russia is expected to continue to try to manipulate narratives about Ukraine.

Difference between ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ defines misinformation as, "Misinformation is ‘false information that is spread, regardless of intent to mislead.’"

The same website says disinformation is, "Disinformation means ‘false information, as about a country’s military strength or plans, disseminated by a government or intelligence agency in a hostile act of tactical political subversion’ It is also used more generally to mean "deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda."

This story was reported on from Phoenix, Arizona.

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