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Published: April 1, 2022

Written by: Stefan Velikov

  • Modern war has shown the importance of information spreading
  • The Security Services of Ukraine shut down both farms used to spread misinformation
  • Over 100 000 fake accounts were used to spread panic amongst civilians on social media

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has discovered five bot farms used for subversion work by spreading false information on social media.

Modern Warfare Is Also Fought in the Digital Realm

War often spills out of its directly affected regions by means of trade, economics, travel, and of course, lives directly or indirectly changed by the horrible events. The war in Ukraine is no exception to this rule, as many vital exports from Ukraine are predicted to be in short supply this year, like grains and other food products.

However, this war has shown that modern warfare also includes the digital realm, particularly when it comes to the spread of information. With almost everyone having some kind of digital device and access to the internet, information spreading is easier than ever. This is how we get much grim yet fascinating footage from the war in Ukraine, which is what many have already dubbed “the most well-documented war in history”.

However, these technologies can just as easily be used to spread fake news to distract, discourage, and demoralize a targeted population in and outside the affected area. In other words, the internet can be used to spread propaganda. One of the most popular ways to do this is to use so-called “bot farms”.

Ukrainian Government Agency Busts Bot Farms

Over a month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is still finding new means of Russian subversion. Recently, the organization discovered and dismantled a network of five bot farms. They were linked to over 100 000 fake accounts used to spread misinformation on social media.

According to the SBU’s official release, the bot farms were found in the regions of Kharkiv, Cherkasy, Ternopil, and Zakarpattia. It is assumed that the installations’ primary use was to spread misinformation regarding the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, aiming to cause panic among Ukrainian citizens.

The investigation found over 100 GSM gateways, 10,000 SIM cards, laptops, other computer equipment, cell phones, and USB drives used to spread misinformation on social media. The SBU did not state any arrests were made, but it did say that “urgent comprehensive measures” are being taken to bring the guilty parties to justice.

Modern war has shown that an online image and control over information are important. The digital realm is a tool like any other. But it can also be used for good, as many from the gaming world have shown support for Ukraine’s struggle, and often gathered to donate money for humanitarian relief.

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