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Bloomberg: Russia uses TikTok content to undermine Ukrainian leadership, Kyiv says

by Martin Fornusek May 7, 2024 11:53 PM 2 min read
The TikTok app displayed on an Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Russia is increasingly using the TikTok social media platform to undermine Ukraine's morale and the legitimacy of President Volodymyr Zelensky, a senior Ukrainian official said in an interview with Bloomberg published on May 7.

The campaign of Russian influencers and bots is to target on the date of May 20, a day when Zelensky's five-year term would have ended if not for the full-scale war. Ukraine's Constitution prohibits holding elections under martial law.

"Russia is dominating us on TikTok due to the scale" of its operation, said Andrii Kovalenko, the head of an anti-disinformation department at the National Security and Defense Council.

"The Russians have begun working systematically on TikTok and are utilizing this platform successfully."

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The app, owned by the Chinese internet company ByteDance, has also come under scrutiny in the U.S. and the EU over misinformation content and security concerns.

Western leaders are worried that data collected by the app could be accessed by the Chinese government. ByteDance has refuted the accusations.

The U.S. Congress recently passed a bill that forces ByteDance to sell the platform or risk its ban for all American users. Kyiv said it was considering taking a similar step if Washington makes it first.

TikTok is only one of multiple platforms Russia utilizes to spread disinformation targeting Ukraine and its allies, along with X, Telegram, Facebook, and more.

Ukrainian officials have previously warned of a Russian disinformation campaign, Maidan-3, expected to culminate in May and aimed at destabilizing Ukraine and undermining its leadership.

Social media giants’ unbalanced fight with disinformation in Ukraine
Editor’s Note: This story was sponsored by the Ukrainian think-tank Center for Democracy and Rule of Law (CEDEM). As Russian missiles pounded cities across Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Russia waged an information war against countries around the world, primarily through social media. The goals of Russ…
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