Russia government Facebook, Twitter accounts still active in US | #socialmedia | #education | #technology | #infosec



Russia’s government social media accounts remain active, but content from some state-run media outlets has been limited or blocked.

Russia has been spreading misinformation since the start of its attack on Ukraine. 

Facebook and Twitter have grappled with the spread of false posts, banning some users and removing certain posts that spread misinformation. Amid the heightened scrutiny of social media moderation, a VERIFY viewer texted the team to ask if the Russian government is still active on Facebook and Twitter in the U.S.

THE QUESTION

Is the Russian government still active on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms in the U.S.?

THE SOURCES

  • Search of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube
  • Twitter spokesperson
  • Yoel Roth, head of site integrity at Twitter
  • YouTube 
  • Drew Pusateri, Meta spokesperson

THE ANSWER

Yes, the Russian government is still active on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms in the U.S.

WHAT WE FOUND

There are several social media accounts representing factions of the Russian government that are currently active online. Accounts representing Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and government-controlled media outlets are still active on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms in the U.S.

The verified “President of Russia” Twitter account, which shares what it calls “official Kremlin news,” last posted on March 15. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, which has been accused of spreading misinformation about the war, also has verified accounts on Twitter and Facebook. As of March 28, the accounts were posting multiple times a day about the war in Ukraine. 

An Instagram account appearing to represent the Kremlin was still actively posting as of March 28. The account is unverified, but has more than 500,000 followers and links to the Kremlin’s account on Telegram, an encrypted social media platform.

Verified pages for Sputnik and Russia Today, media outlets controlled by the Russian government, also remain active on Facebook and Instagram (here and here). Facebook and Instagram have labeled these accounts as Russian “state-controlled media.” Meta, the parent company for Facebook and Instagram, says it is making content from state-controlled media outlets more difficult to find on the social media platforms.

Sputnik and Russia Today also have active, verified accounts on Twitter. The social media platform has also labeled these accounts as “Russia state-affiliated media.” These labels also apply to other accounts that share content from the two news outlets. On Feb. 28, Twitter began adding labels to tweets that share links to media websites affiliated with the Russian government as part of efforts to “significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter,” Yoel Roth, head of site integrity, said.

YouTube is taking a stronger stance against Russian media outlets. It announced via Twitter on March 11 that it would block channels associated with Russian state-funded media outlets like Sputnik and Russia Today worldwide. When VERIFY checked for the accounts on YouTube on March 28, they did not appear in a search. 

Facebook and Instagram’s response

Drew Pusateri, a spokesperson for Meta, told VERIFY that the company doesn’t remove accounts “even when we disagree with the content they post – but we do take action when they violate our rules.”

“The world deserves the opportunity to hear and scrutinize the content of Russian leaders at this moment,” Pusateri said.

Facebook says it prohibits hate speech, credible threats or direct attacks on a person or group, content that contains excessive violence, fake profiles and spam. Meta has outlined steps it says it is taking to reduce the spread of misinformation on its platforms. 

The company said it has taken action to remove false or misleading imagery and videos connected with the war in Ukraine from its platforms. On March 16, Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security at Meta, said in a thread of tweets that the company removed a deepfake video that falsely showed Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelenskyy urging surrender.

RELATED: No, the video of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy urging surrender isn’t real. It’s a deepfake

Twitter currently labels accounts like the Kremlin and Ministry of Foreign Affairs as “Russia government organizations.” It also labels accounts belonging to the government in 20 other countries, including the U.S.

“We label these accounts to provide important context about national affiliation, and to inform people who encounter these accounts about who they represent, and what they’re seeing,” a Twitter spokesperson wrote in an email to VERIFY. 

Twitter said it is also “proactively monitoring for emerging narratives” that violate its rules, including the platform’s synthetic and manipulated media policy and platform manipulation policy, the spokesperson told VERIFY. 

VERIFY has identified a number of viral posts spreading false claims about Ukraine and Russia circulating on these platforms, some of which have been removed or flagged by the social networks. You can see these posts and read our corresponding fact-checks here.

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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