Unknown persons create a fake Le Parisien issue containing anti-Ukraine propaganda
Unknown persons have created a fake Le Parisien issue carrying anti-Ukraine propaganda. Clippings from this "newspaper" have spread across social media and were posted on Facebook as paid-for advertising, LB.ua reports.
French journalist Fabrice Deprez pointed out the forgery. He tweeted that a false article on a "massive exodus [of Ukrainians] to escape military slavery" was very poorly written, but perfectly reproduced the design of the Le Parisien website.
"The only clue, apart from the tone of the article: the domain name," wrote Deprez.
Fascinant: un faux article sur un "exode massif [d'Ukrainiens] pour échapper à l'esclavage militaire" très mal écrit mais qui reproduit parfaitement le design du site du Parisien (seul indice, à part la tonalité de l'article : le nom de domaine) https://t.co/gWHC2qFfa6 pic.twitter.com/EOjzmSw8Mo
— Fabrice Deprez (@fabrice_deprez) April 30, 2023
The fake newspaper published an "article" dated April 19, titled, "Mass exodus to escape military slavery. Ukrainians are trying to avoid inevitable death on the front line." Namely, it features standard misinformation about draft dodging and desertion, which "have long been widespread in Ukraine." It also claims that the Ukrainian army is untrained, while the Russian army is trained well, so the UAF "will not stand a chance" in the event of a counteroffensive.
The article is published on a page that looks like a real Le Parisien issue. The newspaper's editors and the AFP agency are listed as authors. Links to other articles and sections of this website lead to the newspaper's real webpage. The address of the fake website is leparisien.ltd, and the real newspaper is leparisien.fr. You can visually tell the fake apart from the real media outlet by the dot at the end, which the fake version has. Moreover, the fake issue has a different scale when the page is opened – a much larger font. It is worth noting that the fake page does not ask the viewer to accept cookies, but if you follow any hyperlink from it, the real website opens, and there the reader is asked allow data collection.
In addition to this misinformation about draft dodging, the fake newspaper only had one other report on its domain, and it is also anti-Ukrainian. Similarly, the editorial team and the AFP are listed as authors; the article expresses outrage that the French government has allocated 1 million euros for the training of the Ukrainian national Olympics team, and French athletes are allegedly worried that there will not be enough funds for them.
The French online media Pragma reported that a request addressing the Cyber Defense Command at the Ministry of Defense has been filed. It stated that social media, in particular Facebook, have become the target of a misinformation campaign carried out through sponsored content. Pragma found many pages pretending to be real media outlets, which only carry pro-Russian and anti-Western content, in particular reports aimed at undermining support for Ukraine.
The exact identites of the persons behind the falsification of the website and the spread of pro-Russian misinformation are being investigated.
As IMI reported, clones of Ukrainian media carrying anti-Ukraine content have been appearing as well. For instance, on May 10, the Ternopil website "Politerno" reported that unknown persons had created their clone and posted a fake news report there.
RBC-Ukraine, "Ukrainian Pravda", Obozrevatel, and Ukrinform have also reported clones of their websites being created.
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