Canada’s efforts to counter disinformation - Russian invasion of Ukraine
On this page
- The Kremlin’s use of disinformation in the invasion of Ukraine
- How Canada is responding
- How to identify disinformation
- Related links
Democracies rely on access to diverse and reliable sources of news and information. This allows members of society to develop informed opinions, hold governments to account and take part in public debate.
Disinformation is deliberately false information. It is a major threat to democracy and makes it more difficult to access timely, relevant and accurate information.
Disinformation undermines peace, prosperity and individual freedoms. It erodes trust in democracy and reinforces polarizing viewpoints. Especially in times of crisis, disinformation can be harmful.
Disinformation is often described colloquially as “fake news,” but it is different from other types of harmful information activity.
Disinformation refers to false information that is deliberately created to mislead people, organizations and countries.
Misinformation refers to false information, often shared in good faith, that is not intended to cause harm.
Individuals, organizations and governments may create and spread disinformation for a variety of reasons, including:
- to gain support for their policies and suppress criticism in their own countries and around the world
- to profit from creating engaging yet false or misleading content
- to spread their own ideology or beliefs among the public
- to sow discord and interfere with other countries’ domestic affairs
The Kremlin’s use of disinformation in the invasion of Ukraine
For many years, the Kremlin has used disinformation to support its foreign policy goals. It used disinformation to justify its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the continued backing of Russian separatists in Donbas. It continues to use disinformation to try to justify Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal, unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine. Russia uses disinformation to:
- try to blur facts on the ground
- divide Ukrainians and their international partners
- undermine and weaken support for Ukraine abroad
- try to build support for Russian actions at home and abroad
The Kremlin develops erroneous or false content through its official government communications. It also funds the creation of disinformation within Russian media channels. By spreading disinformation through multiple outlets, it can:
- add credibility to a narrative
- target broader audiences
- sow confusion about current events
- drive amplification
The Kremlin spreads disinformation through:
- state-funded media outlets, such as Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik
- social media platforms, using both official government accounts and non-attributed accounts
- foreign broadcasting and think tanks
The Kremlin is also placing new restrictions on independent media and foreign social media platforms in Russia. This is an effort to control information available to the public. These tactics put lives at risk by obfuscating the facts during a time when access to information is critical.
How Canada is responding
The Government of Canada is concerned with the Kremlin’s use of disinformation surrounding its invasion of Ukraine. That is why we are stepping up efforts to counter disinformation at home and abroad using a fact-based approach that is rooted in transparency. We are also committed to upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of expression and media freedom.
We are taking steps to counter Russian state-sponsored disinformation in Canada. The Government of Canada has created a dedicated team to help increase Canada’s capacity to understand, monitor and detect Russian and other state-sponsored disinformation.
The Government of Canada also dedicates resources to uncover Russia’s false claims about its invasion of Ukraine and dispel them with facts. Find some of those claims, along with the facts, at Countering disinformation with facts. This information is based on Government of Canada intelligence.
Since the start of the invasion in 2022, Canada has imposed sanctions on over 1,400 individuals and entities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. This includes 54 individuals and entities that are complicit in the spreading of Russian disinformation. They aid the Russian regime in undermining state sovereignty. They are also responsible for spreading false narratives that serve as pretexts for the Russian regime’s illegal war.
In March 2022, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission removed RT and RT France from Canadian airwaves. They decided that the continued distribution of these 2 Russian state media outlets was not in the public interest.
Canada works with its international partners to detect, correct and call out the Kremlin’s state-sponsored disinformation about Ukraine.
Canada tackles these challenges through a number of international partnerships, including:
Canada also supports programming that enhances strategic communications capacity in Ukraine and builds the resilience of Ukrainians in the face of disinformation.
How to identify disinformation
You can limit the spread and impact of disinformation by knowing how to spot it. Some strategies to spot disinformation include:
Verifying stories with other sources
If you come across a news story that doesn’t appear accurate or seems highly sensational, confirm it by checking with other sources. If the story is covered by credible news sources, then it is likely legitimate. If few or no other news sources cover the story, it may not be legitimate.
Investigating the source of the news
Most credible news agencies will cite the original sources of their information. If you’re skeptical about something you’ve read, investigate the source. See if it affects the facts of the reporting.
Checking the domain name
A simple way to check whether a website is legitimate is to look at the domain name. Untrustworthy websites may use URLs similar to popular news sites to trick you. Sometimes they may only omit a letter or two.
“Fake news” websites are becoming more adept at dressing up their content to appear legitimate. But if you think twice before hitting “share,” you’re on the right track to discerning fact from fiction.
- 2022-10-17 - Canada sanctions additional Russian propaganda agents
- 2022-08-23 - Prime Minister announces additional support for Ukraine
- 2022-07-08 - Minister Joly announces additional sanctions targeting Russian disinformation and propaganda agents
- 2022-03-10 - Media Freedom Coalition statement on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and assault on media freedom
- 2022-03-02 - Statement on behalf of the Chair of the Freedom Online Coalition: A call to action on state-sponsored disinformation in Ukraine
Government of Canada
- Canada’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Online disinformation
- Digital Citizen Contribution Program
- How to identify misinformation, disinformation and malinformation
- Fact or fiction: Quick tips to help identify “fake news”
- Canada’s Digital Charter: Trust in a digital world
- Disarming disinformation: Our shared responsibility (U.S. Department of State)
- Setting the record straight (NATO)
- RESIST 2 Counter Disinformation Toolkit (U.K. Government Communications Services)
- EUvsDisinfo (European Union)
- Ukraine Trivia: Helping Canadians get the facts (Digital Public Square)
- Digital and Media Literacy (MediaSmarts)
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