Feb 25 2022
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today sent letters to Alphabet, Meta, Reddit, Telegram, TikTok, and Twitter urging the companies to prevent misuse of their platforms by Russia and Russia-linked entities.
“In addition to Russia’s established use of influence operations as a tool of strategic influence, information warfare constitutes an integral part of Russian military doctrine. As this conflict continues, we can expect to see an escalation in Russia’s use of both overt and covert means to sow confusion about the conflict and promote disinformation narratives that weaken the global response to these illegal acts. While social media can provide valuable information to civilians in conflict zones, and educate audiences far removed from those conflict zones, as well as a platform for some relatively independent media outlets – including in Russia – it can also serve as a vector for harmful misinformation and disinformation campaigns, and a wide range of scams and frauds that opportunistically exploit confusion, desperation, and grief,” the senator wrote.
In his letter to YouTube parent company Alphabet, Sen. Warner noted that just yesterday his staff observed YouTube ads monetizing content regarding the conflict in Ukraine from RT, Sputnik and TASS, malign actors affiliated with the Russian government.
“Unfortunately, your platforms continue to be key vectors for malign actors – including, notably, those affiliated with the Russian government – to not only spread disinformation, but to profit from it. YouTube, for instance, continues to monetize the content of prominent influence actors that have been publicly connected to Russian influence campaigns,” the senator wrote.
Sen. Warner urged the companies to – at a minimum – take the following steps:
- Establish mechanisms by which Ukrainian public safety entities can disseminate emergency communications to your users in Ukraine;
- Furnish additional account monitoring and security resources to Ukrainian government, humanitarian, and public safety institutions to prevent account takeovers;
- Surge integrity teams, including those with language expertise in Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Romanian, and German, to monitor your platform for malign influence activity related to the conflict;
- Devote additional resources towards the identification of inauthentic accounts, and the removal or labeling of inauthentic content, associated with Russian influence operations; and
- Establish dedicated reporting channels for qualified academic, public interest, and open source intelligence researchers to share credible information about inauthentic activity, disinformation, and other malign efforts utilizing your platforms.