Russia's attack on Ukraine has been accompanied by a shutdown of all foreign media in Russia. Twitter has been curtailed and Meta's platforms Facebook and Instagram are also at risk of being blocked.
There is even a new law that states that any citizen publishing “fake news” about Russia’s intervention in Ukraine could face 15 years in jail. Luckily, one hacker group is trying to do something about this misinformation propagation by the Kremlin.
Called Squad 303, the Polish group has created a website that allows people to send messages to Russian citizens, according to a report published by The Wall Street Journal on Saturday.
Sending messages to Russians
The website sends random messages to some 20 million cellphone numbers and close to 140 million email addresses owned by Russian individuals and businesses.
“Our aim was to break through Putin’s digital wall of censorship and make sure that Russian people are not totally cut off from the world and the reality of what Russia is doing in Ukraine,” a spokesman for Squad303 told The Wall Street Journal.
The website is just a week old but already nearly seven million text messages and two million emails have been sent.
A moral responsibility
Thomas Kent, a former president of Radio Free Europe, a Cold War-era project that beamed radio programs in several languages across the Iron Curtain, told The Wall Street Journal that other nations have a moral responsibility to inform Russians of their country's actions and their impacts on Ukraine and across the world.
“If Russian authorities didn’t think that ordinary people could undermine their power, they would not censor the media so thoroughly,” Kent said.
The question that remains is whether these messages can cause trouble for Russian citizens. The nation seems intent on curbing any opposing views to its agenda and has no issue using force to do so. Those wishing to send messages to Russians need to do so carefully taking into account the complex political landscape of the nation.