A group of websites and social media accounts linked to Russia or far-right groups is spreading misinformation and encouraging political discord just weeks ahead of the key elections in the European Union, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The campaign shares many of the same characteristics used in previous Russian attacks, including, EU investigators tell the Times. Groups in Italy and German bear the same electronic signature as pro-Kremlin websites or share servers used by the Russian hackers who broke into the Democratic National Committee.
Disinformation has long been a part of Russia's foreign policy strategy, and social media has allowed the trolling effort to expand on a viral scale. In 2017,revealed it found evidence that Russians used the social network to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election and sowed discord among Americans.
US intelligence agencies have. But determining Russia's level of involvement is difficult as several copycats on the far right are echoing Kremlin talking points, investigators say.
EU investigators believe networks of Facebook and Twitter accounts have been spreading false and divisive stories about the EU, NATO and immigrants, among other issues. An analysis prepared for the Senate found that Russia's disinformation campaign before the 2016 election used every major social media platform, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, to try to sow the seeds of political discord among Americans.
Earlier this month, Facebook said it had politics in Ukraine and other countries in Europe. Facebook has also opened a new operations center in Ireland to combat fake news ahead of the EU parliamentary elections., pages and groups from Russia that posted content about
The current campaign uses messages taken directly from Russian news media, the Times reported, but investigators haven't publicly accused the Kremlin of supporting a specific candidate. Investigators believe millions of people have been exposed to the propaganda material.
Representatives for Facebook and Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.