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Meta Says Russian Hackers Tried To Commandeer Accounts Of Ukrainian Military

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Ailan Evans Associate Editor
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Facebook parent company Meta said late Sunday it had thwarted the attempts of Russian hackers to seize control of accounts belonging to Ukrainian military officials and public figures.

A group of hackers allegedly from Russia known as “Ghostwriter” attempted to breach the Facebook accounts of Ukrainian officials, the company said in a blog post. The hackers allegedly used phishing attacks to try and seize control of the accounts, after which they broadcast propaganda and disinformation. (RELATED: Russian Government Websites Go Down Amid Invasion Of Ukraine)

“Ghostwriter typically targets people through email compromise and then uses that to gain access to their social media accounts and post disinformation as if it’s coming from the legitimate account owners,” Meta executives wrote. “We detected attempts to target people on Facebook to post YouTube videos portraying Ukrainian troops as weak and surrendering to Russia, including one video claiming to show Ukrainian soldiers coming out of a forest while flying a white flag of surrender.”

Meta said it alerted some of the accounts targeted by the attacks and blocked the domains used by the hackers to try and gain control of the accounts.

The company also said it removed a network of fake pro-Russia accounts that pretended to be Ukrainians in order to spread false information.

“In the last 48 hours, we uncovered a relatively small network of about 40 accounts, Pages and Groups on Facebook and Instagram,” Meta executives wrote. “They were operated from Russia and Ukraine and targeted people in Ukraine across multiple social media platforms and through their own websites. We took down this operation, blocked their domains from being shared on our platform, and shared information with other tech platforms, researchers and governments.”

A Twitter spokesperson told Reuters that the social media platform had also observed coordinated Russian disinformation efforts and taken action against the accounts.

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