Double Take: A Doppelgänger Lit Review (Because the World Did Not Need Another Solo Report)

This report provides a concise timeline of the Doppelgänger Network, a Russian influence operation extensively documented since August 2022.

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Information Epidemiology Lab


April 19, 2024


May 9, 2024

This report provides a concise timeline of the Doppelgänger Network, a Russian influence operation extensively–and we do mean extensively–documented since August 2022. As some journalists and researchers have noted, significant, thorough, and exhaustive research already exists.

This report has been and will continue to be updated to include new publications and to update the index for this series.

Our aim is not to repeat existing research but rather to update the public on the claims and potential audiences being targeted. We’ve included a list of significant reports and publications related to Doppelgänger with our brief timeline of this operation (Table 1).

InfoEpi Lab has access to a collection of probable Doppelgänger data that continues to grow daily. Any of it used in our reports will be publicly available via the Harvard Dataverse. We and other researchers have noted the wide range of languages and adaptability, especially its apparent cooperation with kinetic efforts, whether planned or spontaneous.

In the coming weeks, we plan to keep the public informed at a pace faster than the typical report-writing cycle. These reports will be far less technical and will update the public about recent false claims being disseminated and what audiences they are targeting.

The short reports will update on recent claims and what languages or locations were targeted. They might also serve as a reference for journalists or for researchers documenting campaigns. We would love to see these examples make their way into media literacy programs too.

Doppelgänger Reports

Table 1: Content related to the Doppelgänger operation. Did we miss something? Contact us.
Published Content Publication
2022-08-30 Putin’s Troll Army Attacks Germany T-Online
2022-09-27 Under the Hood of a Doppelgänger Qurium
2022-09-27 Russia-Based Facebook Operation Targeted Europe with Anti-Ukraine Messaging DFRLab
2022-09-27 Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior From China and Russia Meta Newsroom
2022-09-29 Pro-Kremlin Network Impersonates Legitimate Websites and Floods Social Media with Lies ISD
2022-10-27 Doppelgänger—Media clones serving Russian propaganda EU DisinfoLab
2023-02-23 Meta’s Adversarial Threat Report, Fourth Quarter 2022 Meta Newsroom
2023-06-13 France Exposes Mega Russian Disinformation Campaign Politico
2023-06-19 RNN VIGNUM
2023-07-25 Council Decision amending Decision 2014/145/CFSP European Council
2023-07-31 EU Sanctions Individuals, Organizations Connected to Russian Disinformation Network The Record
2023-08-21 Summit Old, Summit New Graphika
2023-08-21 The Influence Operations Uncovered at NATO Summit Politico
2023-08-29 Meta Says Chinese, Russian Influence Operations are Among the Biggest It’s Taken Down NPR
2023-08-29 Raising Online Defenses Through Transparency and Collaboration Meta Newsroom
2023-10-24 Under the Radar Reset Tech
2023-11-07 The Kremlin’s Efforts to Covertly Spread Disinformation in Latin America GEC
2023-11-23 Doppelgänger: How a Russian Disinformation Campaign is Exploiting the Israel-Hamas War EuroNews
2023-11-27 Fake Celebrity Demands to End Ukraine Support Spread by Russian Bot Network Kyiv Post
2023-12-05 Obfuscation and AI Content in the Russian Influence Network “Doppelgänger” Signals Evolving Tactics Recorded Future
2023-12-05 Russian-Linked ‘Doppelgänger’ Social Media Operation Rolls on, Report Says The Record
2024-01-26 Germany Uncovers Russian Disinformation Campaign on X Euractiv
2024-02-07 Russia is Boosting Calls for ‘Civil War’ Over Texas Border Crisis Wired
2024-02-15 Portal Kombat II VIGINUM
2024-02-16 Kremlin Runs Disinformation Campaign to Undermine Zelensky, Documents Show The Washington Post
2024-02-22 Doppelgänger: Russia-Aligned Influence Operation Targets Germany Sentinel One Labs
2024-02-27 LATEST UPDATES (13th package of EU sanctions): EU reaction to Russian invasion of Ukraine European Studies Unit
2024-02-27 Unmasking Doppelgänger: Russia’s Disinformation Campaign Revealed Hive Pro
2024-02-28 Ilya Gambashidze: Simple Soldier of Disinformation or King of Russia’s Trolls? France 24
2024-02-29 Under the Radar: Unmasking the Coordinated Reach of Russian Doppelgänger Bots Byline Times
2024-03-12 Doppelgänger targets Ukrainian and French audiences via Facebook ads DFRLab
2024-03-20 Two Russians Sanctioned by US for Alleged Disinformation Campaign The Record
2024-03-20 Treasury Sanctions Actors Supporting Kremlin-Directed Malign Influence Efforts U.S. Department of the Treasury
2024-03-27 Mysterious campaign against the West: These are part of it T-Online
2024-03-27 Russian Group Spread Disinformation About Princess of Wales, Experts Say The New York Times
2024-03-28 Writing With Invisible Ink: Russia’s Newest Disinformation Tactic Alethea
2024-04-16 Big, bold and unchecked: Russian influence operation thrives on Facebook POLITICO
2024-04-19 Double Take: A Doppelgänger Lit Review InfoEpi Lab
2024-04-19 Lost in Distranslation InfoEpi Lab
2024-04-23 Doppelgänger Responds to U.S. Funding InfoEpi Lab
2024-05-01 How Doppelgänger Hides Which Accounts Engage Its Tweets InfoEpi Lab
2024-05-07 Articles Shared by Probable Doppelgänger Accounts InfoEpi Lab
2024-05-07 Pronouncing Nonsense in German InfoEpi Lab
2024-05-07 Pronouncing Nonsense in French InfoEpi Lab
2024-05-08 Exploratory Data Analysis InfoEpi Lab
2024-05-08 Analysis of Content Headlines InfoEpi Lab
2024-05-08 Sentiments and Emotions in Headlines from Doppelgänger Tweets InfoEpi Lab
2024-05-09 spaCy Analysis of Doppelgänger Content InfoEpi Lab

Characterizing Doppelgänger

The Doppelgänger campaigns use sophisticated tactics alongside old, reliable ones, such as domain squatting, URL redirection, impersonating legitimate news websites (dubbed “Doppelgänger” websites), creating fake articles, attributing fake quotes to popular celebrities and influencers, adding faked voiceovers to celebrity videos, and utilizing pro-Russian citizens of democratic countries to promote Russian friendly geopolitical positions and policies.

Several reports listed above have described the mechanics of the multistage URL redirects (excellent explanation from Recorded Future, pg. 13). The multistage URL redirections are one of the more stable traits in this campaign and it gets around domain bans as the link posted to social media platforms is not the same as the destination.

Microsoft and Le Monde wrote about Russia’s combined use of cyber-kinetic-propaganda operations. In France, a Moldovan couple was arrested for spray painting hundreds of Star of David tags on buildings in Paris at the request of an “individual in Russia.” Pictures of the graffiti were amplified online by accounts associated with Doppelgänger.

In democratic nations, the focus of the Doppelgänger campaigns has been on sowing discord in countries domestically, promoting Far-Left and Far-Right political parties and politicians, disseminating nationalist and isolationist sentiments, and generally amplifying political polarization.

The network simultaneously promotes discord between democracies by driving wedges through trade, immigration, and foreign policy issues. The network’s overarching and consistent mission is spreading anti-Ukraine messaging, depicting Ukraine as corrupt, undemocratic, and incapable of victory amid the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Double Take Timeline

Before we start the series, here are the highlights from the last two years.

  • Initial Identification: A campaign directed at German citizens was identified in August 2022. The first article to cover the operation, “Putin’s Troll Army,” by T-online described coordinated activity targeting Germans with impostor news sites.

  • Meta’s Response: By September 2022, Meta (Facebook’s parent company) took significant action to remove coordinated inauthentic networks tied to Russia aimed at spreading misleading information across its platforms. Meta would later prove unable or unwilling to contain the effort.

  • The Doppelgänger Strategy: Investigations throughout 2022 and into 2023 revealed a fuller picture of the sophisticated “Doppelgänger” strategy. Pro-Kremlin networks impersonated legitimate news websites to spread falsehoods, targeting the E.U. and the U.S. with anti-Ukraine propaganda.

  • Evolving Tactics and AI Utilization: The effort increasingly leveraged artificial intelligence and obfuscation techniques. The network showed a high level of sophistication and scalability:

    Doppelgänger exemplifies the enduring, scalable, and adaptable nature of Russian information warfare, demonstrating strategic patience in campaigns aimed at gradually shifting public opinion and behavior (pg. 1).

  • Governmental and Organizational Actions: Various governments and organizations, including Germany and France, took measures to expose and sanction individuals and entities connected to these disinformation networks. The United States and the European Union implemented sanctions against individuals and groups linked to these disinformation campaigns. Detailed investigations have unmasked vital players and tactics within the Doppelgänger network.

  • Exploitation of Current Events: In late 2023, Doppelgänger exploited the Israel-Hamas war as an opportunity to stoke division and undermine international support for Ukraine. Then, in early 2024, reports indicated an expansion in the scope of these campaigns. This included efforts to encourage civil unrest in the U.S. over immigration and the southern border. Russia used the situation to undermine public figures and political leaders supportive of Ukraine. Prominent figures such as Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, and former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev joined this effort.

  • Shedding Light, Not Shadows: The United States is two years into a new era of more liberal intelligence sharing. By publicly disclosing an impending invasion in 2022 and amplifying the alert about a terrorist threat in Russia in March 2024, the U.S. appears to have finally seen the value in sharing information publicly. While this shift is not expressly tied to this operation, the speed and clarity of this newer approach have undoubtedly affected the operation.

Doppelgänger Series

Non-Chronological Content

Data from reports in this series can be accessed here:

InfoEpi Lab, 2024, "Doppelgänger Series Data",, Harvard Dataverse, V2.

dTeam, a group of U.S. researchers who track foreign influence, assisted with data collection and analysis.


BibTeX citation:
  author = {InfoEpi Lab},
  publisher = {Information Epidemiology Lab},
  title = {Double {Take:} {A} {Doppelgänger} {Lit} {Review} {(Because}
    the {World} {Did} {Not} {Need} {Another} {Solo} {Report)}},
  journal = {InfoEpi Lab},
  date = {2024-04-19},
  url = {},
  doi = {10.7910/DVN/UPEK5Z},
  langid = {en}
For attribution, please cite this work as:
InfoEpi Lab. 2024. “Double Take: A Doppelgänger Lit Review (Because the World Did Not Need Another Solo Report).” InfoEpi Lab, April.