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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Russian Disinformation: Operation Overload

Many posts have analyzed how foreign governments try to influence American politics and policy.  The Russians target other Western countries, too.

James Thomas at Yahoo:
Pro-Russian actors are purposefully barraging journalists with fake news in an effort to spread verification resources thin and amplify the reach of disinformation, according to a new study.

Dubbed “Operation Overload” by Finnish software and methodologies company Check First, which published the report, the ongoing scheme involves anonymous pro-Russian actors who contact journalists in a coordinated campaign to have them verify suspected fake news.

The ploy relies on the simple principle that “all publicity is good publicity”.

The verification requests usually target Ukraine, France and Germany and take the form of emails and social media mentions.

Operation Overload has targeted more than 800 news organisations in Europe and beyond so far, hitting them with around 2,400 tweets and more than 200 emails.

Telegram has also played a significant role, with most of the links sent to journalists taking them to the messaging app.

Check First found that more than 250 fact-checks mentioning the false narratives created for Operation Overload have been published in the past few months.

For example, the sender of one email cited in the report poses as a concerned citizen who has supposedly seen suspicious claims in Russian media and asks journalists to take a look.

In another, the author makes it clear they want any fact-checks to be shared widely so they can be seen by as many people as possible.

This proves Operation Overload’s goal to reach wider audiences, whether the story is debunked or not, according to Check First.