The Macomb Daily
Facebook ran ads in Moldova for sanctioned oligarch
Facebook allowed an exiled Moldovan oligarch with ties to the Kremlin to run ads calling for protests and uprisings against the pro-Western government, even though he and his political party were on U.S. sanctions lists.
The ads featuring politician and convicted fraudster Ilan Shor were ultimately removed by Facebook but not before they were seen millions of times in Moldova, a small nation of about 2.6 million sandwiched between Romania and war-torn Ukraine.
Seeking to exploit anger over inflation and rising fuel prices, the paid posts from Shor’s political party targeted the government of pro-Western President Maia Sandu, who earlier this week detailed what she said was a Russian plot to topple her government using external saboteurs.
“Destabilization attempts are a reality and for our institutions, they represent a real challenge,” Sandu said Thursday as she swore in a new government led by pro-Western Prime Minister Dorin Recean, her former defense and security adviser. “We need decisive steps to strengthen the security of the country.”
The ads reveal how Russia and its allies have exploited lapses by social media platforms — like Facebook, many of them operated by U.S. companies — to spread propaganda and disinformation that weaponizes economic and social insecurity in an attempt to undermine governments in Eastern Europe.
Shor’s ads have helped fuel angry protests against the government and appear to be aimed at destabilizing Moldova and returning it to Russia’s sphere of influence, according to Dorin Frasineau, a foreign policy adviser to former Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita, whose resignation led to the formation of the new government on Thursday.