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Canada’s efforts to counter disinformation - Russian invasion of Ukraine

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Russian regime's invasion of Ukraine

For many years, the Kremlin has conducted a disinformation campaign against the 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:

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

Disinformation is deliberately false information. Individuals, organizations, and governments may create and spread disinformation for a variety of reasons, including:

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.

Some strategies:

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.

In Canada

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.

International

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:

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.

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Government of Canada

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