Taylor Swift’s Pro-Russia Doppelganger

Gadget Lab: Weekly Tech News from WIRED

Dec 14 2023 • 34 mins

Does your favorite movie star or pop singer really love the Kremlin? Though the ads in your Facebook feed may lead you to believe such a thing, it’s just not true. In recent months, a major disinformation campaign has run rampant on Meta and X (aka Facebook and Twitter). The campaign uses fake ads that show existing photos of extremely famous celebrities—Beyoncé, Oprah, Justin Bieber, Shakira, Cristiano Ronaldo—which have been doctored to include fake quotes that back Russia and criticize Ukraine. The campaign, which is still in progress, was perpetrated by a pre-Kremlin group known as Doppelganger. Information shared exclusively with WIRED has also linked this disinformation campaign to Russia’s GRU military spy agency.

On this week’s show, we talk with WIRED contributor David Gilbert, who reports on digital disinformation. David says Doppelganger has been acting in plain sight for over a year, buying targeted ads and using networks of bots and fake Facebook pages to get its pro-Russia propaganda in front of millions of people.

Show Notes:

Read David’s story about Doppelganger’s campaign. Read all of David’s recent coverage. Also read our coverage of other online propaganda campaigns.

Recommendations:

David recommends the movie Saltburn. Mike recommends buying Italian blood orange soda instead of sparkling cider for your next holiday part. Lauren recommends supporting a union!

David Gilbert can be found wrangling all kinds of disinformation on social media @daithaigilbert. Lauren Goode is @LaurenGoode. Michael Calore is @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@booneashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.