The Ukrainian government reportedly enlisted the help of a former White House official to lobby social media companies into cracking down on Russia-based news and propaganda, just days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
According to an Axios report, which cited newly released documents, Cameron Hardesty — who previously handled press duties under the Obama administration — was recruited by Ukraine's Digital Transformation Ministry to address social media companies on the country's behalf.
Hardesty reportedly worked with TikTok and Meta (Facebook's parent company) to minimize news of Russia's progress in its war with Ukraine, according to foreign agent disclosures.
Within weeks, Meta purged its top platforms, Facebook and Instagram, of Russian "disinformation" content, according to Axios.
Also, TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company Bytedance, pulled thousands of videos during the first week of the Russian invasion, while citing it as "harmful misinformation."
Soon after, tech giants such as Twitter and Google, with the latter owning YouTube, began halting reports of Russia's wartime operations.
Hardesty also reached out to officials at the State Department "regarding information operations surrounding Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and to reporters at leading Washington news outlets," citing the Axios report.
In recent weeks, the Kremlin has revealed little about Russia's wartime progress, in terms of reporting casualties among Russian soldiers or divulging information about weapons and munitions losses.
Conversely, Ukraine has been quick to speculate on the number of Russian casualties or diminished weapons count, perhaps as a way of raising more global funds for its wartime effort.
A Newsmax report from last month estimated that Russia was burning through $15 million per day in wartime expenditures.
Hardesty is apparently working for the Digital Transformation Ministry on a pro bono basis, according to foreign agent disclosures filed with the Justice Department last week.
Citing the filing, Hardesty is "advising on messaging for communications with U.S. business representatives, U.S. media representatives, and U.S. government officials."
In addition, Hardesty's "opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and compassion for the Ukrainian people motivated registrant to assist the Ukrainian government representatives on a volunteer basis."
Since late February, the Russian government has restricted social media use in an attempt to suppress domestic opposition to the war effort, or what's known by Russia as a "special operation."
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