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Facebook ends Russian vaccine misinformation campaign

Facebook ends Russian vaccine misinformation campaign

Facebook has dismantled a Russian disinformation that sought to discredit the AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines, including by seeking to show that the former “turned vaccinated people into chimpanzees.”

“Disinformation is not always hidden,” Ben Nimo, director of one of Facebook’s cybersecurity services, noted in a press conference Tuesday.

The California group is regularly accused of contributing to the massive dissemination of disinformation. Last month, US President Joe Biden estimated that Facebook and other platforms were “killing” people by allowing false news about a Covid vaccination to spread.

“This campaign worked like a sink,” the social media giant said. A British telecom company, Fazze, was responsible for spreading misleading articles and petitions as widely as possible on various forums and networks (including Reddit, Medium,, Facebook, Instagram…), via fake profiles, but also influencers. .

And that precipitated the revelations of the process: In May, several French and German health and science influencers denounced offers they had received to discredit the Pfizer vaccine for payment.

“Unbelievable. The address of the London agency that called me is fake. They had no place there, it’s a cosmetic laser center! All employees have suspicious profiles on LinkedIn … which have disappeared since this morning. Everyone has worked in Russia before “, this What Leo Grassett said on Twitter, a science celebrity with 1.17 million subscribers to his YouTube channel.

In the end, Facebook said that most of the content posted on Instagram – which mainly targets India and Latin America – did not receive “likes”. “You fell,” said Ben-Nimo.

Fazze Agency is now banned from the platform. “It was a failed campaign, but the process was complicated,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, director of security regulations at Facebook.

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“There has been spam, influencers, document hacking. (…) So it is difficult for one platform to fully understand this type of campaign,” he added, calling on all civil society (academics, journalists, authorities) to act alongside the networks on the front line. .

Facebook has been promoting its efforts against misinformation for years.

On July 19, Joe Biden returned to his very strong words to make clear: “Facebook does not kill people,” he said, denouncing false information posted by users that could “hurt those who listen to it and kill people.”