Fake News Makers Use Twitter Blue to Spread Ukraine War Disinformation

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  • The BBC identified four major fake news stories about Ukraine viewed by millions.
  • These fake stories were perpetuated by accounts that paid for Twitter Blue to promote their posts.
  • Some of these falsehoods can be traced back to Russian propaganda and Kremlin-controlled media.

Some of the largest sources of fake news are relying on Twitter Blue’s paid features to spread their posts and perpetuate false information about the Russian war in Ukraine.

The BBC identified four major falsehoods posted by several accounts with blue checkmarks — that is, accounts that paid for Twitter Blue so their content is promoted to other users — about Ukraine that garnered millions of views. 

Some of these fake stories can even be traced back to propaganda from the Russian government and Kremlin-controlled media, according to the BBC.

For example, The People’s Voice — also known as YourNewsWire, one of the largest perpetrators of fake news — wrote an article falsely claiming that Russian soldiers found Ukrainian “baby factories” to harvest child organs. The BBC determined that several Twitter Blue accounts promoted the claim, garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

Another falsehood — which the BBC traced to messages posted in online pro-Kremlin groups — gained millions of views after several Twitter Blue accounts shared a screenshot of a headline insinuating that protesters in France shot at French police using American rifles meant for Ukraine.

Before Elon Musk took ownership of Twitter in October 2022, the blue checkmark indicated that an individual’s identity had been verified by the company. Now, Twitter gives the infamous icon to anyone who pays for a subscription to the site.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise