The Cameo application at the service of the Kremlin: how stars unwittingly acted for Putin

Camille Coirault

December 8, 2023 at 7:42 a.m.


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A strategy that would have served the Russian Kremlin well

Western figures find themselves at the heart of a cunning scheme, picked up by Microsoft. Via the Cameo platform (service broadcasting personalized videos of stars), certain renowned celebrities have unknowingly worked for Russia.

Elijah Wood, or Priscilla Presley, were misled by the Cameo application and unwittingly assumed the role of propagators of disinformation. This service is, basically, used to connect thousands of individuals and stars, so that the latter can sell them personalized videos. As futile as the principle may seem, Caméo served, to a lesser extent, for propaganda purposes.

Cameo, diverted from its original use

Personalized messages for events, promotion and advertising or fundraising, Caméo is used for these rather innocent purposes. An Uberized platform like so many others, allowing individuals to “pay for the services” of people in show biz. Microsoft, in a recent report, revealed that the app has been used for nefarious purposes.

Certain personalities were asked to send personalized messages to a fictitious individual calling themselves Vladimir. Video content which was then hijacked by Russian trolls. These then highlighted accusations made against President Volodomyr Zelensky: drug or alcohol consumption.

Thus, Dean Norris, Mike Tyson and others have seen their videos used in a political context, which is absolutely not the original goal. A communications representative for Priscilla Presley confirmed that the misappropriated content shared by her partner was in no way linked to Zelensky or even to the Russian-Ukrainian geopolitical situation.

Cameo Book

Cameo Live, the unexpected tool on which Russian ideology relies by hijacking the video links that pass through it

Extension to the conflict between Hamas and Israel

YouTube is therefore not the only platform used for disinformation. Microsoft has also identified an increase in influence operations aimed at influencing the current war narrative of the conflict currently raging in Gaza. Some pro-Russian actors, identified under the name Storm-1099, played their small role on Caméo; by making it appear that Ukrainian weapons were purchased by Hamas for use against Israel.

They also propagated the idea that transfers of American recruits, organized between Ukraine and the armed forces of Israel, had taken place. Other content also relayed the acquisition of weapons from Ukraine to Hamas. Proper fake news, more subtle than on In short, 2023-style disinformation campaigns, undermining the erroneous role of celebrities in conflicts that their original content does not relate to.

Source : The Wall Street Journal

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