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Ukraine’s fight against disinformation is forging a new startup sector

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When Russian troops flooded into Ukraine last year, an army of propagandists followed them. Within hours, Kremlin-backed media were reporting that President Zelenskyy had fled the country. Weeks later, a fake video of Zelenskyy purportedly surrendering went viral. But almost as soon as they emerged, the lies were disproven.

Government campaigns had prepared Ukrainians for digital disinformation. When the crude deepfake appeared, the clip was quickly debunked, removed from social media platforms, and disproven by Zelenskyy in a genuine video. 

The incident became a symbol of the wider information war. Analysts had expected Russia’s propaganda weapons to wreak havoc, but Ukraine was learning to disarm them. Those lessons are now fostering a new sector for startups: counter-disinformation.

A screenshot of the Zelenskyy deepfake