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Facebook and Twitter are urging users in Ukraine to lock or close their accounts to protect them from hacking or manipulation during the current Russian invasion.
“In the hours after Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday, social media platforms alluded to users in the country being at increased risk of their accounts being manipulated, a tactic Russia has used to spread disinformation for years,” Busines Insider reported. “The recommendations, from Twitter’s corporate account and Facebook’s director of threat intelligence, ranged from what to do if your account was hacked to preemptively closing an account for safety concerns. Overall, the platforms encouraged users to be mindful of how they operated on the internet, as they are at increased risk due to the conflict.”
Twitter didn’t mention Russia by name in its warning, instead keeping the advice to vague and related to “conflict zones or other high-risk areas,” and providing links to information about protecting one’s account from hackers or manipulation. Twitter posted the information in English, Russian, and Ukrainian.
Hours later, Meta’s director of threat intelligence, David Agranovich, posted on Twitter that Facebook had recently added additional features to help Ukraine users protect their accounts. Agranovich posted his information only in Ukrainian.
“Agranovich said any user in the region now had a one-click tool to effectively lock their profiles and add security to them, something the company had previously rolled out in select countries in ‘dangerous situations, like Afghanistan. He also linked to several outside guides offering steps for anyone living or working in Ukraine to protect their digital files and devices,” Business Insider reported.
“It is important for journalists and activists in Ukraine (and other vulnerable groups),” Agranovich wrote, “to remember that Meta is only one element of the online ecosystem.”
The warnings come as Russian troops invaded Ukraine late last week.
The Daily Wire reported that Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has offered “anyone” a weapon who wants to travel to Ukraine to help defend it against invading Russian forces.
“We successfully fought off enemy attacks. We are defending our country, our land, future of our children,” Zelensky said. “Kyiv and key places near the capital are under our control. The occupiers wanted to capture our capital and install their puppets like Donetsk. We broke their idea.”
“Anyone who wants to come over here and defend our country, please come, and we will give you arms,” he continued. “Anybody defends will have been glorified.”
Zelensky also posted a video on social media saying that reports Ukraine has surrendered are fake.
“Recently, fake info was spread about me ordering our army to lay down arms and evacuate,” Zelensky said. “It’s untrue. I’m here, we are not laying down, we will protect our state. This is our land, our country, our kids, and we will defend them.”
Ukraine’s health minister said on Saturday that at least 198 civilians had been killed so far, with another 1,115 wounded.