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Russian propagandists targeting 2024 Paris Olympics to undermine Games

Jun 3

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As punishment for Russia’s war in Ukraine, Russian athletes cannot compete under their country’s flag in the summer Olympics in Paris. Now, Russian propagandists are reportedly looking for retribution by stoking fears to undermine the upcoming 2024 Paris games in July, according to an analysis by Microsoft and the United States government released on Sunday, June 2.

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The propagandists reportedly created false warnings from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and French intelligence authorities. Additionally, the groups created false reports from the BBC and Al Jazeera on terror threats.

France raised its terrorism warning level in the wake of the March Islamic State attack in Moscow and threats against soccer matches in Paris. France is also focusing on bolstering security for the Games. However, neither French nor U.S. officials are warning visitors to stay away from the Games.

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Microsoft and U.S. government believe a group known as Storm-1679 is behind the misinformation campaign. Storm-1679’s disinformation campaign is working to scare people out of attending the Games. However, researchers are unsure if the group is backed by the Russian government or act independently.

The disinformation campaign also attacked French President Emmanuel Macron and the Paris Olympics after Macron publicly considered sending French troops to Ukrainian soil. Previously, Storm-1679 focused on videos disparaging Ukrainian refugees.

Analysts said that Storm-1679 seems to thrive on attention from fact-checking organizations. The group predominantly posts its content on Telegram. However, researchers said that when content is fact-checked with large followings it gets far more views and reaches a broader audience.

Microsoft said that Storm-1679 is focusing more on shorter videos and produces three to eight fake videos per week, in English and in French.

This is not the first time the Olympics faced interference from Russian groups. In 2018, during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in South Korea, Russian hackers reportedly caused an internet outage. French authorities are aware of that incident and maintain they are looking to prevent any similar sabotage attempts in 2024.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

AS PUNISHMENT FOR THEIR COUNTRY’S WAR IN UKRAINE– RUSSIAN ATHLETES ARE BANNED FROM COMPETING UNDER THEIR COUNTRY’S FLAG IN THE SUMMER OLYMPICS.

NOW, RUSSIAN PROPAGANDISTS MAY BE LOOKING FOR RETRIBUTION BY STOKING FEARS TO UNDERMINE THE UPCOMING PARIS GAMES. 

CREATING FALSE WARNINGS FROM THE C-I-A AND FRENCH INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES,

AS WELL AS IMPERSONATING REPORTS BY THE B-B-C AND AL JAZEERA ON TERROR THREATS.

ANALYSIS FROM MICROSOFT AND THE U-S GOVERNMENT SAYS THE SPOOFED REPORTS AND WARNINGS ARE FROM A RUSSIAN GROUP KNOWN AS STORM-1679.

THE HEAD OF MICROSOFT’S DIGITAL THREAT ANALYSIS CENTER SAID STORM-1679’S GOAL IS TO MAKE PEOPLE “FEARFUL OF GOING TO THE OLYMPICS.”

RESEARCHERS ARE UNSURE IF THE GROUP IS BACKED BY THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT OR ACT INDEPENDENTLY.

THE DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN HAS TAKEN TO GOING AFTER PRESIDENT MACRON AND THE OLYMPICS AS MACRON PUBLICLY CONSIDERS SENDING FRENCH TROOPS TO UKRAINE.

STORM-1679 SEEMS TO THRIVE ON ATTENTION FROM FACT-CHECKING ORGANIZATIONS WITH CONTENT MOSTLY STAYING ON TELEGRAM. MICROSOFT OFFICIALS SAID WHEN CONTENT IS FACT-CHECKED BY ACCOUNTS WITH LARGE FOLLOWINGS IT GETS FAR MORE VIEWS. ALLOWING IT TO REACH A BROADER AUDIENCE.

THIS WOULDN’T BE THE FIRST TIME THE OLYMPICS WERE TARGETED BY RUSSIANS. 

IN 2018, RUSSIAN-BASED HACKERS CAUSED AN INTERNET OUTAGE IN SOUTH KOREA DURING THE OPENING CEREMONIES. FRENCH AUTHORITIES ARE LOOKING TO PREVENT ANY SIMILAR SABOTAGE IN 2024.

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