- Experts said Russian trolls used fake “doppelgänger” articles to spread fake news
The bed bug panic sweeping Paris was stoked by Russian trolls, French intelligence suspects.
Experts told France’s RMC radio that Russian trolls had used fake “lookalike” articles that looked like they were written by a reputable French newspaper to fuel bedbug panic on social media.
The French news agency AFP identified two such fake articles telegraph Reports.
An article similar to one in the regional newspaper La Montagne claimed that effective insecticides to kill bed bugs would break the embargo on Russian chemicals.
But La Montage told AFP it never published that article and called the lookalike a “fake.” AFP added that bed bugs have been present in France for longer than sanctions against Russia have been in force.
Intelligence experts have told France’s RMC radio that Russian trolls used fake “lookalike” articles that looked like they were written by a reputable French newspaper to fuel bedbug panic on social media
The bed bug panic sweeping Paris (pictured) was stoked by Russian trolls and French intelligence suspects
The second fake article was allegedly written by the left-leaning French newspaper Libération and shared from a Telegram account with links to Russia Today, owned by the Russian government.
It has been claimed that the increase in bed bugs is due to Ukrainian refugees. The fake news was also published by a site posing as the conservative daily Le Figaro.
However, intelligence experts told RMC that they do not believe Russia started the bed bug panic in Paris – rather, it was a “follower” of the impending bed bug terror being shared by people on social media.
Doppelganger articles are nothing new and are a popular way for Russian trolls to spread fake news.
Catherine Colonna, France’s foreign minister, said earlier this year that these lookalike articles written by Russian trolls were “unworthy of a country with a seat on the UN Security Council.”
Approximately 355 branches and the French Foreign Ministry website were attacked by these trolls.
Mathilde Panot, a French lawmaker, said she warned authorities of 200,000 bed bug infestations in 2017. In 2022 the number rose to 1.2 million places where bed bugs were infested.
Still, dog handlers who detect bed bugs told the Telegraph they had not seen an exponential increase in cases in Paris.
Aldo Massaglia, of pest control company Doggybug, said his company had been dealing with pest infestations in hotels, schools and cinemas for over a decade – but since the bed bug panic hit France, he has seen Doggybug’s business increase by 50 per cent.