Hackers fighting against Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine have created a tool that allows members of the public to text random people in Russia to inform them of the ongoing conflict.
Russian authorities have so far sought to limit the spread of information about the war in Ukraine by cracking down on protesters, news outlets and foreign social media; but hacking group 'squad303' is attempting to fight back through mobile phones.
In a video posted on Twitter, the group described itself as a 'team of anonymous people' focused on 'non-violent information campaigns'.
As part of this mission, squad303 set up a system earlier this month that allows people to send texts, messages on WhatsApp, or emails to randomly selected people in Russia. Hosted on the site sms.1920.in, the program encourages users to let Russians 'know the truth' and 'know the power of the free world'.
"We the people of the world have a message to the Russian nation," the site explains. "A nation that is to pay a huge price because of the shameful decision of the dictator Putin to attack an independent Ukraine by armed forces. The joint action of all the states of the free world, as a response to Russia’s aggression, will lead to the collapse of the entire country.
"However, nearly 150 million Russians do not know the truth about the causes or course of the war in Ukraine. It is fed with the lies of the Kremlin propaganda. There is no free media in Russia and the internet is censored. It is possible for each of us to convey a direct message to the inhabitants of this enslaved country."
To make your job even easier, from now on you can send all your messages from one site: https://t.co/SOF3exu83O ! #fightforUkraine #Anonymous #OpRussia @YourAnonNews @AnonymousUK2022 @YourAnonTV @LatestAnonPress @YourAnonRiots @AnonOpsSE @YourAnonOne @AnonymousPress @joetidy @BBC pic.twitter.com/VRLDyDBjtc— squad303 (@squad3o3) March 14, 2022
The site allows users to choose a random Russian phone number and copy a message written in Russian, one example of which reads: "Hello, we do not know each other, but I decided to write to you, because I constantly read about the war in Ukraine. How is life in Russia now? What do you hear on TV about the war?"
Within 48 hours of the website's release, squad303 claimed to have sent two million messages to people in Russia. In an update shared today (15 March), the hackers claimed the Russian government had attempted to fight the text messages by implementing "full-text censorship of pre-defined messages" sent from 1920.in.
"But no worries," the hackers said, adding, "We have uploaded new ones! Don't stop!"
News of the program's success comes after a Russian journalist sought to spread news of the conflict by interrupting a live broadcast with an anti-war sign.
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