DuckDuckGo Downranking, TikTok Stars, Documenting War Crimes, More: Ukraine Update, March 11, 2022


Bleeping Computer: DuckDuckGo down-ranks sites spreading Russian propaganda. “The DuckDuckGo web search engine is now demoting websites known to spread Russian propaganda following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the company’s founder and CEO, Gabriel Weinberg. ‘Like so many others I am sickened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the gigantic humanitarian crisis it continues to create,’ Weinberg said.”

The Verge: YouTube is now blocking Russian state-funded media worldwide. “YouTube says that it will start completely blocking YouTube channels funded by the Russian government, after it blocked channels like RT and Sputnik in Europe earlier this month. The company also announced that it would be removing content about the Russian invasion of Ukraine that denies, minimizes, or trivializes ‘well-documented violent events.'”


Washington Post: The White House is briefing TikTok stars about the war in Ukraine. “Ukrainian citizens hiding in bomb shelters or fleeing their homes have shared their stories to the platform, while dangerous misinformation and Russian propaganda have also spread. And TikTok stars, many with millions of followers, have increasingly sought to make sense of the crisis for their audiences. The White House has been closely watching TikTok’s rise as a dominant news source, leading to its decision to approach a select group of the platform’s most influential names.”

ProPublica: Infamous Russian Troll Farm Appears to Be Source of Anti-Ukraine Propaganda. “Experts say a recent wave of pro-Putin disinformation is consistent with the work of Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a network of paid trolls who attempted to influence the 2016 presidential election.”

The Verge: Russia threatens Instagram ban in response to Meta allowing violent threats against soldiers. “Russian officials have called on Instagram to be banned and for parent company Meta to be designated an ‘extremist organization,’ according to Russian news agency Interfax and state-owned news agency TASS.”

Washington Post: How to turn a tweet into viable evidence of a war crime. “…just as we’ve all learned the potential utility of ubiquitous mobile phones in capturing illicit and criminal activity in the United States, it’s useful to remember that the same effects are at play in international conflicts. Capturing and sharing an interesting or alarming video might also be sharing the deployment of an illegal munition.”


Bleeping Computer: Russian defense firm Rostec shuts down website after DDoS attack. “Rostec, a Russian state-owned aerospace and defense conglomerate, said its website was taken down today following what it described as a ‘cyberattack.’ The state defense company says its website has been under constant siege since late February when Russia invaded its neighbor Ukraine without provocation.”

Reuters: Exclusive-Facebook Will Temporarily Allow Posts Calling for Violence Against Russians, Calls for Putin’s Death. “Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion, according to internal emails seen by Reuters on Thursday, in a temporary change to its hate speech policy.”

Jerusalem Post: Russian prosecutors ask court to name Meta ‘extremist organization’ . “Russia opened a criminal case against Facebook’s parent Meta Platforms on Friday and moved to designate it as an ‘extremist organization’ after the social network changed its hate speech rules to allow users to call for violence against Russians in the context of the conflict in Ukraine.”


Salon: Vladimir Putin is losing the war — at least on social media. Here’s why that matters. “In the end, future historians may well label this the first ‘social media war,’ just as Vietnam was the first televised war and the Gulf War of 1991 was the first cable news war. And as Vladimir Putin’s ‘chosen war’ against Ukraine enters its third week, fear and outrage continue to spread across the globe like gangrene. It’s increasingly apparent that social media is driving the coverage and providing key information.”

VOA: Russia’s Vaunted Influence Operations Bogged Down with Ukraine. “Much of Moscow’s influence operation has been carried out in plain sight, with Russian-backed media outlets like RT, Sputnik, Ria Novosti, Izvestia and others pumping out stories and social media posts in Russian, English, Spanish, Turkish and Arabic. But research by Omelas, a Washington-based firm that tracks influence operations in the digital environment, finds that as Russian forces started moving into Ukraine, these media operations began to lose traction with their target audiences.”

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  1. I do appreciate this update. It is interesting to read what different platforms (as FB) are allowing and disallowing.
    Many philosophical and pragmatic issues involved!

    For example hate posts and those espousing violence/war.
    Particularly that FB” changed its hate speech rules to allow users to call for violence against Russians in the context of the conflict in Ukraine.”
    While I am appalled at the Russian invasion, I don’t see how this FB allowance of some hate speech is justified. All hate speech is disruptive and causes harm, thus I understand the Russian government’s view.

    Yet to disallow some speech on these platforms (as Russian propaganda) won’t allow for possible primary sources of information for historians.
    Yet to not have rules of engagement on social media can lead to incivility being the norm.

    I guess it all hinges on what these “powers to be” believe human nature is, deep down.
    And/or if social media in its present form is really compatible with human nature… (whatever that means!)

    Ah, it is 3:30 am…and am babbling perhaps
    But I am concerned….

    Again, thank you so much for Ukranian update, looking forward to more of these posts

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