Canada’s efforts to counter disinformation - Russian invasion of Ukraine
On this page
- Russian regime's invasion of Ukraine
- How to handle disinformation
- The Kremlin and disinformation
- How Canada is responding
- Countering disinformation with facts
- Related links
Russian regime's invasion of Ukraine
For many years, the Kremlin has conducted a disinformation campaign against Ukraine by using state media and proxies. It used disinformation to excuse its illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and continued backing of Russian separatists in Donbas. The Kremlin still manipulates information 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 partners;
- undermine support for Ukraine abroad; and
- try to build support for Russian actions at home and abroad.
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 at a moment when access to factual information is critical.
Disinformation is deliberately false information. 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; or
- to spread their own ideology or beliefs among the public.
Disinformation is a major threat to democracy. It makes it more difficult to access timely, relevant, and accurate information. Democracies rely on access to diverse and reliable sources of news and information. This allows members of society to form opinions, hold governments to account and take part in public debate. Disinformation undermines peace, prosperity and individual freedoms. It erodes trust in democracy. In times of crisis, disinformation can be harmful.
How to handle disinformation
You can limit the spread of disinformation by knowing how to spot it. You should also be critical about what you read online.
Verify stories with other sources
If you come across a news story that doesn’t appear to be accurate, confirm it by verifying with other sources. If the story is covered by prominent news sources, then it is likely legitimate. If few or no other websites cover the story, it may not be legitimate.
Investigate the source of the news
Most news reports cite the original sources of their information. If you’re skeptical about something you read, investigate the source. See if it affects the facts of the reporting.
Check 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.
Source: Fact or fiction: Quick tips to help identify 'fake news'
The Kremlin and disinformation
The Kremlin has used disinformation to achieve its goals for some time. It develops erroneous or false content through its official government communications. They use state-funded media outlets, such as RT and Sputnik, and social media platforms.
The Kremlin has also invested in propaganda and disinformation channels. This includes funding foreign broadcasting and fostering other media outlets and think tanks. This approach allows the Kremlin to introduce variations of the same, or different, narrative. They can target different audiences, offer plausible deniability and drive amplification.
How Canada is responding
The Government of Canada is concerned with the Kremlin’s disinformation about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That’s why we are stepping up efforts to counter disinformation at home and abroad. We will also uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of expression and media freedom.
We are taking steps to counter Kremlin disinformation campaigns in Canada. This includes asking the independent Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to review the presence of Russia Today, a Russian state media outlet, on Canadian airwaves. The Government of Canada publishes reliable and accurate information about the situation in Ukraine at home and abroad.
Canada works with its international partners to detect, correct and call out the Kremlin’s state-sponsored disinformation about Ukraine. In crisis situations, such as the war in Ukraine, disinformation can be harmful and put lives at risk. Canada works closely with partners to tackle these challenges through:
- G7 Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM): Canada leads the G7 RRM, which identifies and responds to foreign threats to democracy, including disinformation
- NATO: NATO engages in active public diplomacy outreach and cooperation with global partners. This strengthens efforts to address the challenge of disinformation, including through digital products on social media geared towards international audiences. To combat Russian disinformation, NATO established “Setting the Record Straight” to rebut myths about the organization’s relations with Russia
- Media Freedom Coalition (MFC): The MFC is a cross-regional collaboration with 50+ countries, proactively working to advocate for media freedom at home and abroad. As a co-chair of the Coalition, Canada led a joint statement condemning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and assault on media freedom
- Freedom Online Coalition (FOC): Canada works with FOC Member States and Advisory Network members from civil society, academia and industry. We work to redouble shared efforts to advance Internet freedom and human rights online. As 2022 chair of the FOC, Canada issued a Chair statement on state-sponsored disinformation in Ukraine
Canada also supports programming to enhance strategic communication capacity in Ukraine and build the resilience of Ukrainians in the face of disinformation. In March 2022, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $3 million to counter disinformation around Russia’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine.
Countering disinformation with facts
The Kremlin has long spread disinformation and propaganda to achieve its objectives. It continues to disseminate lies to justify its unprovoked, unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine. Below, you will find lies by the Russian regime about its invasion of Ukraine, along with the truth. This information is based on Government of Canada intelligence.
You can limit the spread of disinformation by knowing how to identify it and being critical about what you read.
Government of Canada departments dedicate resources to dispel Russia’s false claims. Find some of those claims, along with the facts, at Countering disinformation with facts.
Government of Canada
- Canada’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Rapid Response Mechanism Canada - Protecting Democracy
- Online disinformation
- Digital Citizen Contribution Program
- How to identify misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation
- Canada's Digital Charter: Trust in a digital world
- Russia’s Top Five Persistent Disinformation Narratives (US State Dept)
- Russia’s top five myths about NATO (NATO)
- Setting the record straight (NATO)
- RESIST 2 Counter Disinformation Toolkit (UK FCDO)
- EU vs Disinformation (EU)
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