Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, information remains a key weapon in the hands of the aggressor not only against Ukraine, but also against the whole world. At the beginning of the war, due to constant appeals by Ukrainian government and civil society organizations, social networks actively took measures against Russian fakes on their platforms. During this time, the methods of Russian propaganda have changed, as has the approach of technology companies to this problem.
To reinforce the efforts of resistance to Russian information operations, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, together with the Centre for Strategic Communication and Information Security, proposes to state institutions and civil society organizations to promote one voice in terms of information security during interaction with social networks and platforms in the United States.
The companies in question are primarily the so-called Big Tech — Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Telegram.
The following positions are proposed for promotion by state institutions and public organizations:
- Proactive resistance to organized informational attacks by Russian propagandists and bot accounts targeting the Ukrainian segment of social networks. In order to achieve this, it is proposed to establish a communication mechanism, or to improve existing ones, to provide them to Ukrainian government agencies and civil society organizations. Such a mechanism will allow the platforms to be promptly notified of the aforementioned information attacks.
- Deactivation of social media accounts that disseminate Kremlin propaganda content (except for journalistic purposes), threaten Ukrainians or share content that justifies the war.
- Removing posts, suspending accounts, algorithmically deprioritizing pages and posts that share content that is identical or very similar to content that has been removed in the past.
- Real-time reporting of suspected or proven human rights violations or coordinated information attacks by the Russian Federation detected by the platforms to the Ukrainian authorities.
- Retention of content and accounts by platforms when such content is removed for violating the platforms’ policies, including any evidence of war crimes and Kremlin-backed information operations, for further use by Ukrainian law enforcement agencies.
- Screening new accounts or pages containing the names of Ukrainian politicians or institutions for potential impersonation of officials.
- Monitoring of accounts of Russian servicemen in Ukraine.
- Monitoring of inactive accounts that may have been created during the preparation of Russia’s information operation and may be used to spread disinformation and hate speech in the future.
- Creation of an early warning system for active information attacks and online attacks. This involves the platforms warning their partners in the government of Ukraine and in civil society about discovered accounts or networks of accounts that may operate within the framework of Russia’s information operations.
- Continued prioritization of reliable Ukrainian sources in the news feed and in the content recommendation system.
- Prevention of automatic bans and restrictions on verified Ukrainian sources.
- Coverage of reliable information provided by the Ukrainian government for users in active conflict areas.
- Consultations with the Ukrainian government and civil society, as well as with their international partner organizations in a structured format, on the formation and implementation of platforms’ internal policies related to martial law, in particular, policies on disinformation, hate speech and the promotion of reliable and verified information channels.
- Expanding access for independent researchers to aggregated viewing and engagement data from public accounts with high reach. Streamlining content research on platforms for expert organizations to identify disinformation narratives and hate speech.
- Depriving Russian propaganda sources of platform access. This includes removal of Kremlin-controlled media pages; pages of propagandists, i.e. pseudo-journalists working for Kremlin-controlled media; removal of pages of Russian politicians and diplomats; removal of pages of pseudo-authorities created by Russia in temporarily occupied territories.
“Publishing a joint position (‘one voice’) of the Ukrainian government, civil society organizations and international partners means ensuring the maximum transparency of this process. The joint implementation of these principles will help during further negotiations with big tech platforms in the field of prevention and countermeasures against information operations and the spread of disinformation carried out by the Russian Federation. And this is not just about the Ukrainian segment of social media, but also segments in other languages,” said Minister of Culture and Information Policy Oleksandr Tkachenko.
“Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the Centre actively engaged to develop the vector of interaction with social media platforms with the help of foreign partners and civil society. The points of this position were developed jointly by the state and civil society based on the experience of cooperation gained during five months of full-scale war. In our opinion, this “one voice” will help social networks to navigate the main needs for effective countermeasures against a war of aggression by the Russian Federation,“ said Mykola Balaban, deputy head of the Centre for Strategic Communication.