Although social networks have repeatedly shown their usefulness as sources of information for citizens in conflict zones, Facebook and Twitter administrators are asking users in Ukraine for nothing less than deactivating or pre-emptively blocking their accounts to prevent hijacking and their abusive use by Russian hackers for the purpose of distributing propaganda messages.
As part of its efforts to encourage users in Ukraine to protect their accounts, Twitter has distributed a guide with recommendations for avoiding manipulation in the online space, listing various ways to avoid this danger. But the post “How to control your account and digital information” came directly with the suggestion to completely deactivate the account, for users who do not feel safe. He then explained what to do if your account was hacked, with recommendations published in English, Ukrainian and Russian asking, among other things, to turn off location reporting on your phone.
The strategy adopted by Meta and Twitter, US-based companies, comes as an “official” solution against the high threat posed by Russian military entities, which have repeatedly used social media platforms to manipulate public opinion and influence political events, propagating in systematic misinformation in the direction of the target audience.
According to traffic analysis, at least half of the posts distributed on Twitter and Facebook to Ukrainian users of those social platforms contain misinformation and published material for the purpose of spreading panic among the civilian population. Prepared long before, such a campaign could only be carried out by involving a very large number of accounts associated with legitimate users, but clandestinely authenticated on Russian-controlled devices.
Unable to identify compromised and propagandistic accounts in a timely manner, Facebook and Twitter administrators recommend that users who still have access opt out of temporarily blocking or even closing their accounts completely.
A Twitter spokesman said the platform “proactively monitors emerging narratives” that violate its rules of use, including “identifying and discontinuing attempts to amplify false information.”
Representatives from Facebook, TikTok and YouTube did not respond to requests for comment on their strategy or moderation efforts around Russia-Ukraine content.