- Experts said Russian trolls used fake ‘doppelganger’ articles to spread fake news
The bed bug panic gripping Paris has been stoked by Russian trolls, French intelligence suspects.
Experts told French RMC radio that Russian trolls used fake ‘doppelganger’ articles looking like they were written by reputable French newspaper to fire on the bed bug panic on social media.
French news agency AFP identified two such fake articles, the Telegraph reports.
One of them resembling articles from regional paper La Montagne, claimed that effective insecticides used to kill bed bugs were breaking the embargo on Russian chemicals.
But La Montage told AFP it had never published this article and called the doppelganger a ‘forgery’, with AFP adding that bed bugs have been present in France for longer than the sanctions against Russia have been in place.
Intelligence experts have told French RMC radio that Russian trolls used fake ‘doppelganger’ articles looking like they were written by reputable French newspaper to fire on the bed bug panic on social media
The bed bug panic gripping Paris (pictured) has been stoked by Russian trolls, French intelligence suspects
The second fake article was supposedly written by Left-leaning French newspaper Libération and was shared by a Telegram accounts with links to Russia Today, which is owned by the Russian government.
It claimed that the surge in bed bugs was due to Ukrainian refugees. The fake news were also published by a page pretending to be conservative daily Le Figaro.
However, intelligence experts told RMC they don’t think Russia has initiated the bed bugs panic in Paris – it rather ‘rode the wave’ of the upcoming bed bug terror shared by people on social media.
Doppelganger articles are nothing new and a popular method with Russian trolls to spread fake news.
Catherine Colonna, France’s foreign minister, said earlier this year that these doppelganger articles written by Russian troll farms ‘unworthy of a country with a UN security council seat’.
About 355 outlets as well as the French foreign ministry’s website were targeted by these trolls.
Mathilde Panot, a French MP, said she had warned authorities about 200,000 infestations in 2017. In 2022, this rose to 1.2million locations infested with bed bugs.
Nevertheless, handlers of bed bug sniffer dogs told the Telegraph they had not seen an exponential increase in cases in Paris.
Aldo Massaglia from the Doggybug pest control company said his firm had been called out to deal with infestations in hotels, schools and cinemas for over a decade – but he saw a 50 per cent increase in business for Doggybug since the bed bug panic gribbed France.