Boris Johnson pledges 'cyber task force' to root out Russian social media trolls
Boris Johnson has promised to "intensify" efforts to root out Russian social media trolls through increasing cooperation with other states.
It comes amid revelations that around 2,800 Russian bots and fake accounts targeted the UK in an effort to spread disinformation around the Salisbury attack.
Ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia have both been left fighting for their lives after they were hit by a nerve agent developed during the Soviet era.
British officials said targeted efforts by the Kremlin to “spread confusion” had come through promoting false narratives, conspiracy theories and suggestions that Britain was behind the assault, both online and through state media.
The Foreign Secretary said only Moscow would launch such a campaign to “distort facts”, and said Vladimir Putin’s regime was “fooling nobody”.
“The Kremlin’s controlling hand over its media organisations sought to dismantle the truth and introduce uncertainty even before the Prime Minister uttered a word on the issue,” he told the Sun on Sunday.
"But instead of succeeding, they have simply fuelled the fire of Russian guilt.
“And soon enough, Twitter trolls began popping up, mirroring the lies peddled by state controlled media anchors and Russian political figures."
Mr Johnson said by combining efforts with Nato and the EU, countries can hit the trolls online and “eliminate” the accounts.
“But with the investment from the UK and intensified efforts across Europe and beyond, including alongside international partners and tech giants, these effects are being diminished,” he added.
"By working together, we can identify, expose and eliminate accounts which exist simply to cause harm.
“That is a prime example of how international unity and solidarity is bringing an end to the disruptive use of disinformation.”