Russia claims to launch automated system to detect criticism of the state and the war in Ukraine

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Russia claims it has launched an automated system to search the web as it tightens efforts to control its citizens, criticism of the country and the war effort.

“Octulus” was launched on Monday, February 13 by the Main Radio Frequency Centre (GRCHC) according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

Russia’s high command has been notorious in spreading misinformation throughout its invasion of Ukraine, however, including in what it shares online and on social media channels.  In January 2022, the European Union banned Russian-controlled media, while social media giants including Facebook did the same over misinformation concerns.

The outlet has claimed that an automated system has the capability to detect and decipher complex language, handwritten texts and drawn content as well as standard texts and images.

Octulus has been tested since the beginning of January and is said to now be fully operational working alongside other monitoring tools of Roskomnadzor. The GTRCHC said “The Oculus information system has already been launched and fulfils the tasks assigned to it in full – it reveals violations of the law in images and video materials.

“Until 2025, the possibility of adding new classes and types of violations, as well as the function of determining people’s postures and their actions, is being worked out. The system will detect prohibited materials on several frames on video fragments, in complex handwritten texts and drawn content,”

No further details have been provided by the agency nor have they provided any update on the system´s effectiveness. But it is said to automatically detect offences such as extremist themes, calls for mass illegal events, suicide, pro-drug content, LGBT propaganda and more.

The agency continued by saying “Prior to the development of the Oculus system, specialists of FSUE GRCHC analysed images and videos mainly manually.”

The system is said to be capable of analysing over 200,000 images daily, far in excess of previous manual efforts that could only manage 106 images and 101 videos per day.

The Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation said that the measure was a necessary response to provocations and anti-Russian actions on the part of foreign resources. They add that 102,627 fake internet resources were deleted or blocked, including about the course of a special military operation in Ukraine.

The launch of Russia´s new automated system to detect online violations is just the latest in a series of steps designed to control the discourse and opposition to the war.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]