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uk royal health crisis was russia behind spreading false narratives on princess of wales

UK royal health crisis: Was Russia behind spreading false narratives on Princess of Wales?

NEW DELHI: After weeks of speculation surrounding Catherine, Princess of Wales’s absence from the public eye, she disclosed her battle with cancer and the commencement of treatment. Amidst this personal crisis for Kate and her family, disinformation experts at Cardiff University in Wales identified a Russian-affiliated disinformation campaign exploiting the situation. Martin Innes, a leading figure in the study of disinformation, noted the convenience of the swirling mess of speculation for foreign actors seeking to disseminate false information.This campaign, linked to 45 social media accounts, previously spread falsehoods about Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and targeted French President Emmanuel Macron. Its aim, according to Innes, is to sow discord among Western nations and erode trust in their institutions, a CNN report said.The researchers’ focus on this disinformation effort stems from detecting unusual activity and spikes in social media traffic related to the Princess of Wales. The identified accounts, rather than creating original content, interjected divisive material into discussions about the British royal family, thereby spreading misinformation.The disinformation group, known as “Doppelganger,” operates under Kremlin direction and has previously targeted audiences in the United States, Europe, and Ukraine. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has taken steps to disrupt Doppelganger’s operations, although the group’s tactics have evolved to become more sophisticated, the CNN report said.Recent sanctions by the US Treasury against individuals and entities associated with Doppelganger underscore the ongoing efforts to combat the network’s extensive web of misinformation.In parallel, the British Embassy in Moscow had to refute unfounded rumors about King Charles III, illustrating the wide-reaching nature of such disinformation campaigns. These efforts aim not only to fabricate stories but also to amplify existing societal divisions.Experts agree that disinformation thrives on engaging and divisive topics, challenging the credibility of information sources. However, the effectiveness of these campaigns in truly influencing public opinion remains debatable, with many people already skeptical of online information.The revelation of Kate’s illness and the subsequent manipulation of related narratives underscore the broader strategies of disinformation, including attempts to undermine public trust and paint a negative picture of British institutions. This case highlights the ongoing challenges faced by democracies in countering sophisticated foreign disinformation campaigns aimed at destabilizing societal trust and cohesion.

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