How Internet sleuths exposed a celebrity “volunteer soldier” in Ukraine as a fraud

In March, the month after Russia declared war on Ukraine, a new account joined Twitter under the handle CanadianUkrain1, the user claiming to be a North American citizen joining the frontlines of the Ukrainian efforts against the Russian invasion. “Fighting the Russian invader along the Mykolayiv-Kherson axis,” read its bio. “Glory to Ukraine!”

CanadianUkrain1 shared videos and images he claimed to have taken himself from combat, alleging to have killed a Russian soldier with a tomahawk on one occasion and writing a tweet thread about a top-secret bicycle mission through Kherson on another. But most of the account’s posts resembled the work of amateur open-source intelligence researchers, known commonly as OSINT: often anonymous social media users who analyze conflict zones by using publicly accessible information gleaned from platforms like Google Maps. CanadianUkrain1 would repost content, mostly from Telegram, adding his own commentary. 

His follower count skyrocketed, but the ruse did not last long.

Topics: International, Internet, News, People, Social networks
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