Well-known Fact Checkers find fake Fact Checkers facts fake: Russian misinformation edition

Clemson University's Media Forensics Hub and ProPublica have identified a new Russian misinformation channel: fake fact-checking already purportedly fake videos. Russians essentially parody fact-checking videos from other countries while claiming footage of their own troop's destruction is provably Ukrainian disinformation spread with the intention of leading Russians to believe they are actually losing troops and hardware.

I highly recommend reading the whole article, it sheds a lot of light on how expert and deep Russia's misinformation expertise runs.


Researchers at Clemson University's Media Forensics Hub and ProPublica identified more than a dozen videos that purport to debunk apparently nonexistent Ukrainian fakes. The videos have racked up more than 1 million views across pro-Russian channels on the messaging app Telegram, and have garnered thousands of likes and retweets on Twitter. A screenshot from one of the fake debunking videos was broadcast on Russian state TV, while another was spread by an official Russian government Twitter account.

The goal of the videos is to inject a sense of doubt among Russian-language audiences as they encounter real images of wrecked Russian military vehicles and the destruction caused by missile and artillery strikes in Ukraine, according to Patrick Warren, an associate professor at Clemson who co-leads the Media Forensics Hub.

"The reason that it's so effective is because you don't actually have to convince someone that it's true. It's sufficient to make people uncertain as to what they should trust," said Warren, who has conducted extensive research into Russian internet trolling and disinformation campaigns. "In a sense they are convincing the viewer that it would be possible for a Ukrainian propaganda bureau to do this sort of thing."