February 19, 2019  |  Updated March 19, 2019

#ElectionWatch: Insta-Deception Targets Ukraine

By Donara Barojan and Kanishk Karan
(Source: @DFRLab)

On January 17, Facebook removed 41 Instagram pages targeting Ukraine that it said “shared characteristics” of accounts operated by the Internet Research Agency (IRA) troll factory in Russia. The takedown came shortly before Ukraine’s presidential elections and amidst growing fears that the Kremlin would seek to influence the electoral process.

Facebook shared the account names of 24 Instagram pages with @DFRLab shortly before the takedown. All 24 masqueraded as local news aggregators publishing posts in Ukrainian and appeared to target Ukrainians living in central and western Ukraine. The pages managed to reach an audience of nearly 100,000 users, although there is evidence to suggest not all engagement was organic.

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