Fake Defense Ministry Twitter account detected

Latvia's Defense Ministry revealed January 30 it had uncovered a series of fake Twitter accounts purporting to be those of genuine ministries and government organizations, including the Defense Ministry itself.

"The Ministry of Defense in cooperation with the military information technology security incident team (MilCERT) has uncovered a forged Ministry of Defense account on microblogging website Twitter," a release from the (real) ministry said.

"The counterfeit Twitter account was visually reminiscent of the genuine account because it used a Ministry of Defense logo and the description indicated that it is the Ministry of Defense's official Twitter account," the statement continued.

Other fake accounts had also been turned up posing as the Latvian President, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Latvian Television and the Estonian President via the bogus Defense Ministry account it added, though some of them, particularly those featuring pictures of the Latvian and Estonian presidents had bizarre names.

Some of the content is equally bizarre, for instance a letter on the Latvian 'presidential' account announcing the resignation of a fictional US ambassador in extremely bad English.

In turn the link to the ambassador's supposed account reveals that he appears to be constructed from LEGO. 

Indeed, many of the followers of the fake accounts are also constructed from blocky graphics and appear to have links to the ROBLOX videogaming community -- which also allows users to exchange messages.

LSM noted that a fake presidential account had posted an identical message as another Latvian ROBLOX account, which suggests both are run by the same person.

 

Though most of the content is clearly nonsense and the accounts have few followers, the possibility exists that they were being prepared as a trial run for a more professional disinformation campaign, as several of the tweets hint at an entirely fictional 'border misunderstanding' incident.

All the accounts appear to be interconnected, each following the others and commenting on each other in the classic troll modus operandi.

Twitter has been contacted and asked to close the accounts and by Monday afternoon the fake Defense Ministry account had been suspended.

Users should uses their critical faculties online and check the reliability of social media sources, the ministry suggested. 

Below is a real tweet from the real account informing of the fake account, so that's the one to follow if you want to see what the Defense Ministry really says.

 

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