Hollywood actors including Elijah Wood 'have become unwitting stooges aiding ... trends now
Hollywood stars including Elijah Wood and Mike Tyson are being unwittingly used by Russia to 'push anti-Ukraine propaganda' as part of a coordinated disinformation campaign, Microsoft's latest Threat Intelligence report has found.
Microsoft found an 'unknown Russia-aligned influence actor' this year hired famous actors on popular video-sharing site Cameo to record messages that could be taken out of context to undermine support for Ukraine,
'Starting in July 2023, pro-Russia social media channels began circulating videos of celebrities, deceptively edited to push anti-Ukraine propaganda.
'The short video messages, which often feature celebrities pleading with 'Vladimir' to seek help for substance abuse, are edited by the unknown actor to include emojis and links.
'Videos circulate through pro-Russian social media communities and are amplified by Russian state-affiliated and state-run media outlets, falsely portrayed as messages to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.'
'Kremlin officials and Russian state-sponsored propaganda have long promoted the false claim that President Zelensky struggles with substance abuse; however, this campaign marks a novel approach by pro-Russia actors seeking to further the narrative in the online information space,' a Security Insider memo concluded.
Actors Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Kate Flannery (The Office) and Priscilla Presley (ex-wife of Elvis); musician Shavo Odadjian; and boxer Mike Tyson were named as some of the victims of the campaign.
Microsoft concluded Russian state actors paid celebs to record personalised messages that could later be taken out of context and used as part of a misinformation campaign this year
Vladimir Putin looks on as he holds a meeting of the Russia - Land of Opportunity platform supervisory board at the Catherine's Hall of the Kremlin in Moscow on April 20, 2022
Ukrainian military soldiers fire from the MT-12 or 2A29 gun 'Rapira' is a Soviet smoothbore 100-mm anti-tank gun on December 7, 2023 in Avdiivka, Ukraine
Both Ukraine and Russia have recently claimed gains in the Avdiivka, where Russia is continuing a long-running campaign to capture the city in the Ukraine's Donetsk Region
A tweet by now-deleted X account 'SpriterTeam' included a message from Wood, taken out of context to look like a plea for Zelensky to seek help for drug and alcohol abuse.
In a fact check report of the video, which was allegedly seen 837,000 times, Newsweek concluded there were 'multiple signs from the video confirming with near certainty that Wood did not urge Zelensky to go to rehab.'
American actor Elijah Wood, known for his role as Frodo Baggins in the Lord of the Rings, was among those believed to have been targeted by the deceptive campaign
Newsweek noted Wood said Vladimir, not Volodymyr, in the since-deleted video, claimed the video was heavily edited, and observed that Wood never mentions Zelensky or Ukraine.
'There is no clear message in it apart from Wood telling someone called Vladimir to seek help.'