Suspicious Facebook accounts spread Covid-19 disinfo in Armenian: DFRLab

Suspicious Facebook accounts spread Covid-19 disinfo in Armenian: DFRLab

PanARMENIAN.Net - Suspicious accounts — some of them likely hacked or inauthentic — spread disinformation in several Armenian Facebook groups on March 30–31 2020, the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab said in a new study.

The accounts allege that COVID-19 has spread through an Armenian military unit stationed in Noyemberyan, a town in Armenia’s northeast Tavush Province bordering Azerbaijan.

"Armenia has not been immune from the infodemic that has gripped much of the world as the coronavirus pandemic spreads. On March 20, the country’s National Security Service announced that it had discovered that “hackers, some of them from the Republic of Azerbaijan,” had gained access to the social media accounts of Armenian Facebook users and spread disinformation about the coronavirus in Armenia from their accounts,"DFRLab said.

As of March 30, the Armenian Ministry of Defense spokesperson reported six confirmed cases of COVID-19 among servicemen. There have been no official reports of widespread infection among units in the Noyemberyan region.

The research organization cited open-source evidence linking several instances of disinformation spread in Armenia to people in Azerbaijan.

Armenia, a country of just under three million, struggles with the most confirmed cases of Covid-19 (833 infections as of April 6) in the South Caucasus, as Armenia-Azerbaijan tensions reach a flashpoint after a recent military incident, and as voters headed to the polls in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh), the heart of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

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