Germany has uncovered a major "pro-Russian disinformation campaign" using thousands of fake accounts on X to try and stir anger at Berlin's support for Ukraine, a media report said on Friday.

The revelations come amid growing concern about the impact increasingly sophisticated disinformation campaigns could have on elections.

Experts commissioned by the German foreign ministry used specialised software to monitor posts on the online platform X, formerly known as Twitter, between December 20 and January 20, news weekly Der Spiegel wrote.

They reportedly stumbled across more than 50,000 fake user accounts that together pumped out more than a million German-language tweets.

A common theme was the accusation that Chancellor Olaf Scholz's government was neglecting the country's own population in favour of helping Ukraine in its war against Russia, according to Spiegel, which said it has seen excerpts of the analysis.

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The accounts also often linked to fake news stories on websites designed to resemble those of genuine media outlets, Spiegel said, leading analysts to connect it to the Russia-linked "Doppelganger" campaign already known to authorities.

The discoveries come at a time of increasing worries about the effect that sophisticated disinformation campaigns could have on elections.

Three regional elections are taking place this year in eastern Germany, where the far-right AfD party is riding high in the polls.

In June, some 400 million people across the European Union will be eligible to vote in the European Parliament election.

Simonyan Doubles Down on Accusation of German Plans to Strike Kerch Bridge – Though All Is Not as She Claims
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Simonyan Doubles Down on Accusation of German Plans to Strike Kerch Bridge – Though All Is Not as She Claims

The arch-propagandist tried to capitalize further on Thursday’s claims by releasing the audio and full transcript of the conspiracy with the names of the Bundeswehr officers involved.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned this week that 2024 will be a "critical year" for fighting disinformation from actors such as Russia.

Elections will become "the prime target for malign foreign actors", he warned.

The World Economic Forum has ranked disinformation as its number-one threat over the next two years.

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Comments (3)

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John
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@GregC, I think rump and musk have other masters they report to. They don't seem at all interested in fostering unity in the formerly patriotic unified USA. Each seems to thrive on using media mostly to sow dissent and destabilize allied democracies.

If technically possible (?) I agree with the commenter above that it is time to set up an "iron curtain" internet firewall / cut the transmission feed from all nations set on destroying democracy. We seem to be unable to stop them from now using the digital communication tools our innovative societies have invented against us. Their dissent sowing / falsehood spreading messaging is resulting in crisis levels of national discord. ...particularly in the USA, which is seemingly careening toward insurrection against elected governments and even a possible civil war. What is the point of Russian, Iran, China, North Korean physical goods sanctions / travel restrictions, when they and their now many spies domestically can freely run amuck conducting war against us on the core digital platforms our society now runs on.

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John
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@Jack Griffin,the MRGA paid troll is back. Language has been toned down a bit though. Probably they've been 're-educated' by their paymasters after the recent past eviction of all russian trolls from the site for profanity laden responses every time someone called him out on their lame MRGA / MAGA propaganda. The entire free world and all but the dumbest MAGA cult kool-aid drinkers well know that anyone associated with that subversive criminal led group will throw Ukraine under putin's oppressive imperial steam roller.

They are so stupid. Just the fact that they take the time to seek out this Ukrainian site site and then prevalently post thoroughly debunked crap inferring MAGA's rump actually cares for Ukrainians, illuminates this is a paying gig for them.....and we all know who is paying them.....

Troll "jack" says what?

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GregC
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I may be great that X will will actually go bankrupt... Musk seems to have problems to actually run a company correctly... I think this guy has too much money and like trump feels he is above everyone else...

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