The University of Helsinki has reportedly been bombarded on social media with thousands of anti-Russian comments. Messages issued on Monday afternoon call on the university to stop admitting students from Russia and to end scholarships for Russian citizens.
The university’s social media posts have received up to 2,500 comments, all containing similar content.
The institute tweeted about the cyber attack on Tuesday and said it suspected the messages were part of a disinformation campaign. "We will delete or hide all of these comments."
"Most of the accounts from which comments have been posted appear to be new. They have very few posts or followers. They appear to be fake profiles," Tomas Sjöblomuniversity social media and digital communications expert, explained.
Comments circulate 10 to 15 messages that follow a similar pattern and contain nearly identical content, indicating that the messages are automated and may be due to a bot attack.
According to Sjöblom, they could be part of a coordinated state-sponsored campaign from Russia. However, there is currently no evidence to support these claims.
"One possibility is that the comments are indeed intended to undermine the right of Russians to study. Another option is for the messages to create the impression that there are anti-Russian feelings in Finland or at the University of Helsinki." he noted.
In theory, this could be used, for example, by certain Russian media to portray Finland in a negative light.
The university said it is currently monitoring the situation and has instructed a few employees to remove or hide comments posted by fake profiles. If the attack continues, the department may restrict or block all comments on social media.
"Such activities shall not affect the activities of the University other than its communications," Sjöblom pointed out.
The university has previously stated that it will continue to want researchers and students from Russia.
Source: The Nordic Page