FAKE: All calls will be recorded, social media will monitor communication

FAKE: All calls will be recorded, social media will monitor communication

26 February 2022
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Fact-checking in partnership with Facebook

Information has been spread across the web about how starting from tomorrow, “our country” will introduce new rules on communication. Supposedly, all phonecalls, messages and WhatsApp calls will be recorded, and Twitter and Facebook will be monitored. Further, it is claimed that all devices will be connected to a surveillance system. The message then calls on people to be careful and not share messages that break the rules of law and morality. It is emphasized that from tomorrow onwards there will be a new form of surveillance in the country.

Screenshot of the post

Let’s explain why this is wrong.

These messages were shared in several waves:

  • the first of them appeared back in August of 2017 in the russian segment of Facebook. Some users have claimed they were sent out as messages in WhatsApp.
  • the next wave of posts appeared in November and December 2018. They started to come up in both the russian and ukrainian segments. Although some posts  pointed out that the control of social media and recording of calls have to do with the so-called “Yarova Law”, which is a package of amendments to russian law that forces social media companies and phone operators to save message logs, phone calls and all user-generated traffic, and also give authorities access to this information. Which means that the limitations in question have to do with the Russian Federation and nothing at all with Ukraine.
  • similar posts from October 2021 connect these rules with the “Implementation of the Third part of the Yarova law” 
  • starting in October 2021, these messages started being shared in ukrainian Facebook communities, particularly ones with many residents of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. 
  • similar posts were shared in January 2022 in the kazakh segment of Facebook during the protests in the country. Then users connected the supposed limits with the Committee of National Security of Kazakhstan. 
  • the same messages were shared by users from Abkhazia.
  • the latest wave of posts took place in the ukrainian part of Facebook in February 2022. 

The mere fact that messages containing the same information were shared in different countries at different times using the phrase “starting from tomorrow, in our country” already gives reason to doubt their authenticity.

Now let’s check this information according to the ukrainian context.

Social media can reveal private message history if needed. Government agencies can access private messages if they know the user’s phone number and they are using an unprotected internet connection.

Phone calls may be examined by the authorities if they are given the permission from a court to do so. In order to access information about the caller, as well as their location, they simply need to look at the logs that are automatically kept by mobile operators. As operators do not keep the text of the call, it can only be accessed through special equipment accessible to the SSU and the Interior Ministry.

The post’s author also claims that devices are connected to CDMX surveillance systems. CDMX (Ciudad de México), or Mexico City, has nothing to do with Ukraine.

We have already proven wrong information about VRU introducing a bill that would allow for ukrainians’ calls to be recorded.

Attention

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations