FBI's Troubling Partnership With Ukraine: Censorship, Suppression of Information on Social Media

(AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

So far, the United States has sent over $75 billion to Ukraine to fund its war effort against Russia. But this is not the only aid the U.S. government provides to the country as it struggles to repel the invasion. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is also lending its assistance to Ukraine to help with its effort to combat Russian disinformation on social media, according to a recent report from journalist Lee Fang.


A senior Ukrainian official who regularly corresponds with the FBI explained that the agency has been pressuring Facebook to remove alleged Russian “disinformation” based on requests from Ukrainian intelligence. The conversation with Fang took place at the RSA Convention, a yearly conference for cybersecurity firms, tech companies, and law enforcement agencies.

“Once we have a trace or evidence of disinformation campaigns via Facebook or other resources that are from the U.S., we pass this information to the FBI, along with writing directly to Facebook,” said llia Vitiuk, who heads Ukraine’s Department of Cyber Information Security in the country’s Security Service.

“We asked FBI for support to help us with Meta, to help us with others, and sometimes we get good results with that,” he explained. “We say, ‘Okay, this was the person who was probably Russia’s influence.’”

Interestingly enough, the official admitted that their definition of “disinformation” is rather broad and often targets social media accounts and posts that simply contradict the Ukrainian government’s narrative. During Fang’s interview with him, Vitiuk claimed he supports free speech but argued that these steps are necessary to protect Ukraine against Russian propaganda efforts.


“When people ask me, ‘How do you differentiate whether it is fake or true?’ Indeed it is very difficult in such an informational flow,” he said. “I say, ‘Everything that is against our country, consider it a fake, even if it’s not.’ Right now, for our victory, it is important to have that kind of understanding, not to be fooled.”

Ukrainian authorities claim that one of the methods Russian forces have been using is disinformation tactics intended to create false tensions between President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Valerii Zaluzhnyi, the commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s military, in an attempt to sow misunderstanding and create problems in Ukraine.

Fang’s article also raises concerns about the FBI’s influence over social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. There have been reports and congressional hearings investigating the Bureau’s role in shaping content moderation decisions during the 2020 election. Social media companies have been actively searching for foreign propaganda since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

The Twitter Files revealed that the agency, along with other government agencies, has been targeting American accounts and posts for censorship. But it was not yet known how much work the Bureau is doing at the behest of the Ukrainian government.


Critics argue that in their efforts to combat Russian disinformation, these tech firms end up suppressing independent reporting and dissenting viewpoints regarding the military conflict. There are suggestions that tech companies may adopt censorious practices preemptively, to avoid the disapproval of the federal government, with leaked documents revealing government plans to rely more heavily on social media platforms to remove “disinformation” related to U.S. support for Ukraine. These concerns, apparently, don’t bother folks like Vitiuk, who acknowledged that his government is concerned more about narrative than truth.

The extent of the influence exerted by the U.S. military and intelligence in shaping social media conversations about the Ukraine-Russia war remains unclear. There have been several revelations of FBI agents engaging in regular correspondence with Twitter executives, urging them to detect and remove Russian content.

To be clear, our federal government is working at the behest of a foreign power to censor certain types of content. Not only is the state sending oodles of cash to the Ukrainian government, it is also diverting resources to bolster their propaganda efforts.


While Fang’s report did not explicitly say whether these censorship practices also targeted Americans, the revelations from the Twitter Files suggest that such a possibility is not out of the question. Vitiuk said they consider any information contradicting their preferred narrative is disinformation, meaning that this would apply even if it comes from an American source. The question is: How much longer will the U.S. government get away with this?

The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of RedState.com.


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