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Kremlin bots spam internet with fake celebrity quotes against Ukraine

by Abbey Fenbert June 16, 2024 3:27 AM 2 min read
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 16: Scarlett Johansson attends the 2023 God's Love We Deliver Golden Heart Awards at The Glasshouse on October 16, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
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Russian bots affiliated with a Kremlin disinformation network published 120,000 fake anti-Ukraine quotes falsely attributed to celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston and Scarlett Johansson, in one day, the independent Russian media outlet Agentsvo reported June 15.

Quotes appeared over celebrity photos, displaying messages calling to end aid to Ukraine and describing European collapse.

The images were published between June 14-15 by the Kremlin disinformation network Dvoynyk, a representative of the Bot Blocker project told Agentsvo. The fake quotes have since garnered over 500,000 views.

The campaign reportedly began with Dvoynyk publishing 50 fake celebrity quotes and images on the social media platform X, then retweeting them over 120,000 times. Bot Blocker said this was standard for disinformation campaigns of this type, and that the project has recorded six similar operations over the past six months.

The bots published posts in English, French, German, and Polish. The statements were connected to a range of famous people, including Ashton Kutcher, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, Alain Delon, Luc Besson, Elton John, and Lionel Messi.

"We are impoverished, it's time to forget about Ukraine," a quote falsely attributed to the actor Jennifer Aniston says.

A fake Scarlett Johansson quote warns that "the EU is falling apart."

The sentiments are echoed in a fake Elton John statement: "We fell into the Ukrainian trap. Now the EU is collapsing."

The propoaganda campaign began immediately after the EU's parliamentary elections, in which far-right groups made significant gains. Russian disinformation campaigns intensified leading up to the vote in an attempt to sway the outcome.

Bloomberg: Russian operative spreading Kremlin disinformation across Europe
A Russian intelligence operative already identified as heading a Kremlin disinformation campaign in Africa has also been courting European journalists to spread Moscow’s false narratives across the continent, Bloomberg reported on June 11.

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