Social media companies have been unsuccessful in halting “significant” Russian disinformation campaigns since the Ukraine invasion, as per the European Union’s assessment. The EU Commission’s report revealed that the impact and influence of accounts supported by the Kremlin have continued to expand in 2023.
The report also highlighted an increase in Russian disinformation on X, formerly known as Twitter, following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the company. Despite seeking comments from Twitter, Meta, TikTok, and YouTube, none have responded.
The report, published on Wednesday, examines efforts to combat Kremlin-backed disinformation and points to the growth, especially due to the relaxation of safety standards on Twitter.
Earlier, reported on the dissemination of false information about the Ukraine conflict by official Kremlin social media accounts.
According to the report, “Pro-Kremlin accounts still command the largest audiences on Meta’s platforms in absolute numbers. Additionally, the audience size for Kremlin-affiliated accounts on Telegram more than tripled.”
The study also concluded that platforms consistently failed to apply their terms of service in various Eastern European languages.
This development comes after the European Union introduced stricter rules under the Digital Services Act (DSA) for major online platforms earlier this month. The DSA mandates a more robust approach to monitoring content, including disinformation and hate speech, on “very large” platforms with a minimum of 45 million monthly active users.
The report suggests that if the DSA had been in place prior to the previous month, social media companies would have violated their legal obligations, potentially resulting in fines.
“In 2022, the reach and influence of Kremlin-affiliated social media accounts increased significantly across Europe,” the report emphasized.
The report also referenced a tweet from Elon Musk on April 9, in which he announced that his platform would no longer “restrict” Kremlin-managed accounts. In the tweet, Musk defended the decision, stating that censorship shouldn’t be practiced simply because others do it and that allowing press freedom when others do not showcases strength.
It’s worth noting that Twitter had previously “restricted” accounts in April of the previous year, meaning these accounts would no longer be promoted in timelines, notifications, or elsewhere on the site. This action was taken under the previous management team. However, the company had faced criticism for not banning numerous Kremlin-linked profiles, contrasting with the ban imposed on former President Donald Trump.