By: Jonah Bennett
Vietnam Veterans of America is calling on Facebook and Twitter to work with the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs to fight counterfeit veterans’ advocacy pages on Facebook spreading fake news.
In the wake of a report from The Washington Post bringing attention to a new study showing that Russian-linked propaganda has been targeting American veterans and the military community through Facebook and Twitter, Vietnam Veterans of America wants social media giants to collaborate with the federal government to crack down.
The Oxford University study determined that active-duty service members and veterans are consuming fake news from Russian-controlled social media accounts. The study claims that “Some of the accounts are managed by known trolls or are pro-Putin accounts sharing significant amounts of Russian-oriented content,” which has attracted the attention of the American veterans’ advocacy community.
Vietnam Veterans of America knows what it’s like to be the target of social media disinformation.
“Today’s disturbing report from the Washington Post ought to be a wakeup call, not just for veterans, but for the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, who have a responsibility to protect us,” said John Rowan, President of Vietnam Veterans of America, in a statement. “For months we’ve been quietly trying to push Facebook to close down fake pages that are imitating Vietnam Veterans of America, and to stop Russian bots from harassing our advocates, to no avail. So far these social media companies have failed to step up, which is why we need DoD and VA to get involved.”
“Today’s report identified a key reason that veterans are targeted for disinformation campaigns: veterans are opinion leaders in our local communities,” Rowan added. “VVA is calling on Facebook and Twitter to immediately shut down all fake veteran pages and spam bots, and for DoD and VA to get involved in protecting servicemembers and veterans from social media disinformation campaigns.”
The congressionally-chartered veteran service organization reported in August to Facebook that a Facebook page, with an associated site hosted in Bulgaria, was using the name “Vietnam Vets of America” to garner approximately 195,000 likes and spread fake news. The page recently posted an image with the caption: “Will you turn off the NFL next weekend?” and another image promoting the Blue Lives Matter movement.
Facebook’s security team has been aware of the page since late August, but as of October 9, the page is still very much active, according to emails obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation
Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.