Moldova: Russia continues to use Facebook for political interference

Facebook continues to “assist” Russian-backed groups that have been moving to subvert the democratic process in Moldova. The social network owned by Meta should work, more seriously, what are the strange political ads that often appear online.

Today, the focus of Russia’s activity is Moldova and its democratic current situation. The so-called “soft propaganda” manages to be attractive in order to rally wills to protest against the Moldovan government.

Ilan Shor, a politician and businessman sanctioned for his ties to the Kremlin, has been accused by the U.S. government of attempting to destabilize Moldova. In addition to this, the accusation is that he is doing it on behalf of Russia.

The announcements that have been promoted in social networks had a massive mobilization last Sunday. The anti-government move held in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital, was widely promoted on Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. Advertisements against the Moldovan government are growing by the day on the platform owned by Meta.

Russia and its approach to the region

More and more Facebook pages are promoting Shor’s events, its agenda and everything that happens in its news feeds. Different people, many dedicated to the media, view with concern the growth of “dark pages” on social networks.

These journalists, video editors and producers often leave reviews on those pages that are found to be “fake”. In addition, the respective report is made to Facebook. However, in 90 percent of the cases the platform’s response is that everything looks normal.

Moldova has had a history of many identity changes until its final independence 30 years ago. The territory was first part of the Ottoman Empire, later annexed to the Russian Empire and after World War I was part of Romania. After World War II, Moldova was part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) until its final dissolution in 1991.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which had been going on for many years, has had a more military escalation since February 2022. At this point also propaganda networks used social platforms to spread and disseminate Russian ideals.

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, had promised at the time to take action against pro-war campaigns. “We are taking extensive measures to combat misinformation,” the company had announced as the wave of violence in the territory and social networks was growing.

Geopolitics in technology

Moldova, which shares borders with Ukraine, seemed to be outside the conflict; however, the actions of groups on social networks put it in the center of the scene.

Facebook had also commented that they had established “a special operations center staffed by experts from across the company, including native Russian and Ukrainian speakers.” With this initiative, they sought 24-hour monitoring of the platform to respond in real time to problems.

Ben Waters, a spokesman for Meta, also addressed the issue and confirmed that Facebook adheres to U.S. sanctions on Russia. “When Ilan Shor and the Şor Party were added to the U.S. sanctions list, we took action on their known accounts,” Waters confirmed. Moldova always feared being a Russian military target after the beginning of the military conflict with Ukraine.

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