If you follow the invasion of Ukraine on social media, you will now see the appearance of a virtual four-legged friend: Sheba, the mascot of the North Atlantic Organization Vilas. The hashtag: NAFO.
The war in Ukraine added new fighters. In the virtual battlefield. Their mascot is the dog Shiba Inu, which became an internet meme ten years ago but is now at the forefront of the fight against Russian propaganda. Online forces sympathetic to Ukraine gathered under the name North Atlantic Organization, or #NAFO – a reference to NATO.
Engineer Bert Bloken, who is making an effort to provide air purification in classrooms and nursing homes, also took up that glove and recently became a member. “I follow the war because I am deeply affected by it,” he says. Russian soldiers send videos to their homes of torturing people. I’m not a huge fan of former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but he has a point when he says this is a battle between good and evil. NAFO is a club of like-minded people, with two goals: to raise money for the Georgian Legion fighting in Ukraine, and to fight Russian disinformation.”
Concretely, this is how it works, says Blokken: “One of the people who started it is still anonymous, but you can find him on Twitter under the name @Kama_Kamilia. There are ways to donate money on this account. Once you do, send a message with the message #fellarequest and a screenshot of your batch. After that you get an avatar with Shiba Inu. The movement is growing fast. And some you guys We work on it for hours a day.”
Much you guys Anonymous, but a number of prominent politicians are known to be members. Former Estonian President Tomas Hendrik Elves, US Congressman Adam Kinzinger and Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov – to name a few. The club has already received attention in Washington Post And the The Economist. A humorous cyber army fights the Russian troll army with jokes, jokes and sarcasm: it’s world news.
In addition to Blocken, former Colonel Roger Housen follows NAFO closely. “I find it very exciting,” Howsen says. This is the first super hybrid war in history. There is a battlefield and penalties. Food is used as leverage. There is little movement on the diplomatic front, but this channel is also important. There are also cyber attacks by Russia, including on Estonia, targeting banks and government institutions. And this is the war on social media. That’s new. The money allocated to the Georgian Legion amounted to 400 thousand dollars. But NAFO is bombarding Russian propaganda with a massive counterattack.”
That’s what Heusen said first. “Russian trolls are well known. They played a role in the US and French elections. They are out to destabilize the West. As far as I know, this is the first time these trolls have been beaten. you guys Every message they send is answered with jokes. And so they are mocked. An additional advantage is that people who do not read a newspaper or watch TV on social media remain alert to the Ukrainian issue.”
As often happens on social media, a viral spark can spread. This seems to be happening in recent months and weeks with the hashtag #NAFO, with thousands of posts per day already. “It’s a popular activity,” Howsen says. “Russian trolls are in control, they are factories. These are ordinary citizens.”
However, Housen also sees potential risks. “It seems clear that high-ranking, well-informed people with an anonymous account are collaborating. You cannot rule out the possibility that organizations like the CIA or other intelligence services would like to participate in the information war under the hashtag #NAFO. That’s why you can’t do everything you guys Spread it, just believe it. I think the Ukrainian successes in Kherson have been amplified lately, for example. In war, each side wants to control information. I can’t prove it, of course, but I’d be surprised if the CIA didn’t try to take advantage of it. by you guys to feed on what could also be misinformation.”
Is it a useful battle? “Militarily, not much will change,” Howsen says. And it has little influence on public opinion in Russia, these people do not see it. So it remains an echo chamber for like-minded people in the West.”
One benefit that Housen sees is that she underestimates Kremlin sympathizers, who risk being mired in the scorn of Shipu Ina and the Boys. I think of personalities like Thierry Baude in the Netherlands, Marine Le Pen in France, and Vlaams Billangers with us. Politicians defending the Russian cause react very quickly, so they will be more cautious. Although there is a flaw in this humor: war is a bloody act.”
“Humour is sometimes childish,” says Bert Bloken. “But that’s on purpose. This dog looks a bit sleepy and wears weird traits. This is a low-key way to get so many people to work.”
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