Home / Africa / Russia wants more influence in Africa. It’s using disinformation to get there

Russia wants more influence in Africa. It’s using disinformation to get there

Washington Post | Facebook says the oligarch behind the Internet Research Agency is involved.

In October, the Russian government hosted the first Russia-Africa Summit. More than 40 African heads of state arrived in Sochi to “identify new areas and forms of cooperation,” as Vladimir Putin noted in his greeting to participants.

A week later, Facebook announced that it had removed three networks of pages and accounts engaged in a long-term influence operation spanning eight African countries. Facebook, which had proactively identified a majority of the pages, attributed this operation to companies run by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, a man with close ties to Putin. Prigozhin is also the Russian oligarch U.S. authorities accused of bankrolling the Internet Research Agency — which the New York Times referred to as the “notorious Russian troll factory.”

Our team at the Stanford Internet Observatory worked with Facebook to identify and analyze these materials. As we show in a recent white paper, it is no accident that, as Russia sought to increase its influence in Africa, Prigozhin was running influence operations there. Here’s what we found.

This was a big operation

The operation targeted Libya, Sudan, Madagascar, the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Congo, Ivory Coast and Cameroon. We analyzed the networks targeting the first six of these countries — an investigation involving 73 Facebook pages and seven Instagram accounts. These pages had “likes” from more than 1.7 million accounts, though some of these likes are probably from the same account. The accounts posted at a high rate — with over 8,900 posts in October alone.

There were patterns, and familiar tactics

We saw consistent tactics across these Facebook pages. Some of these tactics were familiar to those who have studied Internet Research Agency activity: pages set up to resemble local news sources, posts duplicated and cross-posted to amplify engagement, and attempts to leverage original, country-specific memes to damage opposition leaders and Russia’s rivals on the continent, such as France.

An anti-American cartoon from June alleges that Americans were bribing CAR radio stations to broadcast lies. This image appeared on a Facebook page targeting the Central African Republic. (Stanford Internet Observatory)

But other tactics were novel. At times, the Russian disinformation companies employed local citizens as content creators, making it more difficult to trace pages back to their origin. And there were franchise-like centers — the two largest were in Egypt and Madagascar — directing teams of page administrators who produced steady streams of local-language content.

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One comment

  1. The fear of living in a world not dominated by aryans is a tragedy because they know it will take more than a thousand for them to even dream of returning to the same position or never. Economic and military cooperation between AFRICA, CHINA, RUSSIA, AND SOUTH AMERICA mean more than half of the worlds population can trade without needing aryans. This kind of cooperation is very dengerous because if an African country buys the Russian anti missile defence system. It becomes impossible for the aryan comminuty to invade and change the countries president. Meaning thier influence will deminish in a very short space of time. Aryans thought they had another five hundred years to exploit Africa. But brutally for them the end is around.and they cry Russian propaganda, Chinese bliblibli

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