Russian bots attack Germany: Ministry report

January 26,2024 835
Russian bots attack Germany: Ministry report

Russians are conducting mass disinformation attacks on Germany. Experts at the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs exposed the Kremlin’s systematic bot campaign on the social media platform X (Twitter). Official Berlin is concerned about potential Moscow interference in elections, as reported by Spiegel.

Analysts from the Department of Strategic Communications at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs used special software to investigate a substantial dataset on X (Twitter). The analysis covered the period from December 20 to January 20. Spiegel obtained an unpublished report from the experts.

In a month of analysis, experts identified over 50,000 German-language accounts that did not belong to real individuals. On certain days, bots posted around 200,000 tweets per day. The virtual robots’ activity decreased on weekends and Russian holidays.

Primarily, the bots spread a narrative that Germany neglects the interests of its population by supporting Ukraine. The campaign aims to exploit dissatisfaction among some Germans and deliberately amplify it, say analysts. Other key themes include German assistance to Ukraine, the “defeat of Ukraine,” and the “influx of Ukrainian refugees.”

The attack aims to incite dissatisfaction among Germans and undermine trust in the government, democratic institutions, and journalists. Experts believe the campaign has been ongoing since 2022 and is orchestrated by Russia.

A significant portion of the campaign is fully automated – bots from a large group of accounts publish their tweets approximately simultaneously and at similar rates, creating the impression that algorithms somehow control it, analysts add. The campaign coordinators also repeatedly created fake sources to later disseminate the required tweets to a large audience using bots. For example, they spread a purported “statement” from Minister Annalena Baerbock claiming that “the war in Ukraine will end in three months.” Some accounts are now being blocked, but many of them continue to “work” successfully.

The German Ministry of Foreign Affairs is concerned that such extensive bot activity on X (Twitter) could realistically influence future elections – both for the European Parliament and the three federal states in Germany.

Cover: Shutterstock


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