Russian Propaganda Exploits US Actors On Cameo: Microsoft Report Reveals Deceptive Tactics


In a recent report by Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center, it has been disclosed that Russia manipulated several US actors on the video message platform Cameo to propagate false information about Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky.


Celebrity Cameo Videos Altered for Propaganda

"Russia has deceived multiple US actors on Cameo, including Elijah Wood, using their videos to spread false narratives about Ukraine. Microsoft's recent report sheds light on the deceptive tactics employed in this propaganda campaign."

Celebrities such as Elijah Wood, known for his role in Lord of the Rings, were misled into creating seemingly personal messages for Mr. Zelensky, urging him to seek help with substance use issues. Microsoft’s report highlights that the actors were likely unaware that their videos would be used in Russian propaganda.

Russia’s False Claims and Manipulation Tactics

Russia has persistently falsely claimed that Ukrainian leaders, including Zelensky, are struggling with substance use, as part of their strategy to gain support for the ongoing invasion of Ukraine. The manipulated Cameo videos, featuring actors like Priscilla Presley, Dean Norris, Kate Flannery, and John C McGinley, were modified with emojis and media logos before being circulated on social media.


Cameo’s Response and Trust and Safety Investigations

Cameo, a platform popularized during the Covid-19 pandemic, expressed concern, stating that such use of videos in Russian propaganda would violate its community guidelines. While the platform did not comment publicly on ongoing Trust and Safety investigations, it emphasized that verified violations would result in content removal and suspension of the purchaser’s account.

Celebrity Responses and Clarifications

In response to the revelations, Elijah Wood’s spokesperson clarified that the actor’s Cameo video was intended for a general request and had no connection to Zelensky, Russia, Ukraine, or the war. This emphasizes the actors’ unwitting involvement in the propaganda campaign orchestrated by Russia.


Escalation of Russian Disinformation on Social Media

This incident follows a pattern of Russia employing various methods to disseminate false information about the war in Ukraine on social media. A recent Wired report revealed a disinformation campaign using images of celebrities like Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian alongside anti-Ukraine quotes, reaching millions on Facebook. Researchers linked this campaign to a Russian influence operation with ties to the Kremlin.

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