Russia hacks Cameo for celebrity-backed disinformation

Together with

The Future. Microsoft’s Threat Analysis Center found that Cameo videos made by a number of celebrities had been co-opted by Moscow to make it look like they were criticizing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The incident shows just how prevalent and, frankly, creative Russian-backed disinformation campaigns can be… which may lead celebrities to think twice about monetizing their likeness online too freely.

Cameo ammo
The Kremlin recruited unknowing celebrities into war with Ukraine.

  • Cameos by celebrities like Elijah Wood, Priscilla Presley, and Dean Norris were repurposed to make it look like they were encouraging President Zelensky to give up his addiction issues and neo-Nazi beliefs — lies perpetuated by Russian media.
  • The videos, addressed to a “Vladimir,” were manipulated to include emojis, links, and logos of media outlets.
  • They were then shared on social media platforms Telegram and VKontakte before being boosted by the media network Tsargrad, and eventually finding their way onto mainstream Russian sources like RIA Novosti and Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
  • The videos were dubbed in Russian in order to help boost morale at home for an invasion that has cost the country hundreds of thousands of soldiers.

Of course, none of the celebrities behind the videos had any knowledge that their Cameos would be used in this way, and Cameo is removing the content where it can and is suspending the purchasers’ accounts. No one wants to be cannon fodder.

David Vendrell

Born and raised a stone’s-throw away from the Everglades, David left the Florida swamp for the California desert. Over-caffeinated, he stares at his computer too long either writing the TFP newsletter or screenplays. He is repped by Anonymous Content.


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