Numbers of volunteers joining the fight to debunk misinformation 'spike amid Russia invasion'

Misinformation spread amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sparked an increase in volunteers signing up to debunk falsehoods, a UK-based verification non-profit has said.

Since the Russian assault began, an onslaught of misleading messages, videos and photos have hit the major social media platforms. However, Ross Burley, head of the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR), told ITV News that his non-profit had a "trickle" of volunteers before the invasion; now up to 50 people every day offer their help.

Mr Burley added that these volunteers are "from all different walks of life and with different skill sets”.

In an example of what CIR is up against, one clip, taken from a video game, amassed millions of views as users falsely claimed it depicted an air attack between Ukrainian and Russian forces.

In a separate incident, someone had edited air raid sirens into footage filmed two years ago during an air show rehearsal in Russia. A social media post then claimed the clip showed Russian fighter jets flying over Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

Many verification organisations, like CIR, note that a significant amount of this misinformation is produced by the Russian state.

“The Russian state is a very sophisticated purveyor of misinformation - this conflict is one of the worst examples we’ve seen - out of date videos are amplified by bots and put on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and Facebook," Mr Burley said.

"Then you have paid influencers - some of whom may not even know they are working for the Russian government - promoting certain narratives because they are doing it through certain PR firms.”

Beyond organisations like CIR, what can be done to tackle misinformation? Mr Burley said social media companies used by Russians, like Meta (formerly known as Facebook), YouTube and TikTok need to "step up" and employ more rigorous fact-checking systems.

He reasons: "We must remember that the primary audience for Russia’s misinformation is the Russian public themselves."

However, spreading misinformation isn't limited to the Russian's invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Burley said: “It’s a huge and growing problem - the biggest national security challenge of our time. We saw it through Covid and the anti-vaxx movement, we saw it with how disinformation tried to thwart the result of the US presidential election."

As part of their work, CIR have produced this interactive map of Ukraine and the surrounding areas showing incidents that have appeared on social video and which the organisation have verified.

If you can't view this map on your device, click here to view.

How do I know what's misinformation and what's truth amid the Ukraine crisis?