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Ukraine Says it Warned Facebook, US in 2015 About Russia's Disinformation Campaign

Ukraine Says it Warned Facebook, US in 2015 About Russia's Disinformation Campaign
(Matt Rourke/AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 01 November 2017 12:35 PM

The Ukrainian government says it warned Facebook and U.S. officials two years ago that Russia was conducting disinformation campaigns on the social networking system, the Financial Times has reported.

"We shared with them some of our concerns that the problem of fake news spreading and the influence of behavior is very worrying," said Dmytro Shymkiv, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential administration. "I think Facebook was warned about what might happen with respect to the situation that unfolded in the US. Their response was: 'We are an open platform, we allow everybody the possibility to communicate.' That's all I got."

Facebook, however, denied Shymik's version of events.

"The conversations they had in 2014 and 2015 were about our handling of reports by Russians to get Ukrainian content taken down from our platform, not about fake news or attempts to spread messages," said Richard Allan, Facebook's vice-president of public policy for Europe, Middle East, and Africa who personally oversaw the team that traveled to Kiev to meet the Ukrainian government.

"The content reporting behavior we observed at the time bore no resemblance to information operations we observed in connection with the 2016 U.S. election. The Ukrainian government has more recently raised the issue of fake news with us, but this was only in 2017 after the US election."

The Ukrainian claim is not the only indication that Russian fake news was known about much earlier than the tech giants have so far let on. Axios reported that a former FBI agent said he detected Russia was using fake news and automated bots on Twitter and Facebook to manipulate American opinion throughout 2014 in what appears to be a test run before its more serious efforts in meddling in the U.S. presidential campaign two years later.

Facebook and other tech companies, which have appeared before congressional committees this week, already have presented plans to improve transparency in their advertising systems after evidence of Russian tampering raised questions over the companies' apparently flawed knowledge and control of what happens on their platforms.

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The Ukrainian government says it warned Facebook and U.S. officials two years ago that Russia was conducting disinformation campaigns on the social networking system, the Financial Times has reported.
ukraine, warning, facebook, russia, campaign
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2017-35-01
Wednesday, 01 November 2017 12:35 PM
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