Russia's information war is being waged on social media platforms

Days after Russia invaded Ukraine, multiple social media platforms—including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube—announced they had dismantled coordinated networks of accounts spreading disinformation. Since the 2016 U.S. election, platforms and governments have become more adept at combating this type of information warfare—and more willing to deplatform bad actors that deliberately spread disinformation. 

Laura Edelson, co-founder of Cybersecurity for Democracy and member of NYU Center for Cybersecurity, spoke with Scientific American on ​​how an information war is being waged as the conflict continues. “The single biggest thing that platforms should be doing, especially in these moments of crisis, is [recognize they] should not promote content solely based on engagement,” said Edelson, adding that aggressive releases of information “[creates] a space where it was difficult for the Russians to put out misinformation about those same things. … There wasn’t an information vacuum that the Russians could step in and fill.”