Ukraine war tests tech giants’ power
Telegram’s experience reflects competitive pressures. The app is popular for sharing pictures, videos and information about the war in Russia and Ukraine. But it has also become a gathering place for war misinformation, such as unverified images from battlefields.
On Sunday, Telegram’s founder, Pavel Durov, posted to his more than 600,000 followers on the platform that he was considering blocking some war-related channels inside Ukraine and Russia because they could escalate conflict and ethnic hatred. can provoke.
Users responded with alarm, saying they rely on Telegram for independent information. Less than an hour later, Mr. Durov reversed his course.
Understand Russia’s attack on Ukraine
What is at the root of this attack? Russia considers Ukraine within its natural sphere of influence, and has been troubled by Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the country’s possibility of joining NATO or the European Union. While Ukraine is part of neither, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
“Many users asked us not to consider disabling Telegram channels for the duration of the conflict, as we are their only source of information,” he wrote. Telegram did not respond to a request for comment.
Inside Meta, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, has made the situation “chaotic” due to the amount of Russian disinformation on its apps, said two employees, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Both employees said Russian experts on Meta’s security team, which detects and removes state-sponsored propaganda from Facebook and Instagram, are working round the clock and regularly communicate with Twitter, YouTube and other companies about their findings. are communicatively.
Meta’s security team has long debated whether to ban Sputnik and Russia Today, two of Russia’s largest state-run media sites, on their platforms or label their posts so that they can clearly state their source. . According to a January report from the State Department, Russia Today and Sputnik are “critical elements in Russia’s propaganda and propaganda ecosystem”.
Employees said META executives were opposed to the moves, saying they would anger Russia. But after the war broke out, Nick Clegg, META’s head of global affairs, announced On Monday the company will restrict access to Russia Today and Sputnik throughout the European Union.
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