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The Kremlin-backed private mercenary Wagner Group has been using social media to recruit drone operators, medics, and psychologists to participate in combat operations, including against Ukraine, Politico reported citing exclusive research.
Over the past 10 months, job advertisements for Wagner on Twitter and Facebook reached almost 120,000 views, according to Logically, an AI startup specializing in disinformation.
The posts about different available positions with the mercenary group have been published in many languages, including French, Vietnamese, and Spanish, and have listed phone numbers and Telegram accounts. According to Politico, the Wagner Group has been offering 240,000 rubles ($3,190) per month and a benefits package, including health care.
It couldn’t be determined how successful the ads have been, but they "almost certainly represent breaches of Twitter and Facebook's terms of service," Politico wrote.
Researchers said that the posts are using “the exact same language as previously verified Wagner accounts on places like Telegram or VK (a Russian social media network),” but it is hard to directly link these messages to Wagner.
Another analysis obtained by Politico from a foreign official confirmed that some phone numbers are associated with either the mercenary group or the Russian intelligence service.
“Some of these efforts are actual propaganda films in combination with phone numbers so that you can directly contact representatives of the Wagner Group,” said Kyle Walter, head of research for Logically, as quoted by Politico. “As we continue to view Wagner as a more and more dangerous threat in the world, the fact that these posts are circulating online is very concerning.”
Politico reached out to Twitter for comment but received “an automated poop emoji.” The company recently dropped out of European Union agreement to combat disinformation. On May 29, French Digital Minister Jean-Noel Barrot threatened to ban Twitter in the EU if it didn't comply with the European Digital Services Act that will go into effect at the end of August.
Meta, Facebook's parent company, responded to Politico’s request saying that the Wagner Group “cannot have a presence on our platforms” as it is listed as a dangerous organization. The company mentioned that they remove content with “praise or substantive support for Wagner when we become aware of it, including posts that aim to recruit for them.”
According to Politico, after research by Logically was completed on May 19 and the news outlet reached out for comments, 58 out of 60 collected posts were still up on social media — Facebook removed just two posts after being contacted by Politico.