The news from nan warfare successful Ukraine tends to attraction connected beingness battles, but there’s different beforehand successful nan conflict that gets little attention: nan tubes of nan internet. Russia’s wide strategy involves a immense disinformation campaign, but complete nan past year, an service of shitposters has started fighting back. It’s a loosely organized but highly online conjugation that calls itself NAFO — short for nan North America Fellas Organization — and it’s fighting a meme warfare against nan Russian invasion.
NAFO is little of a group than a movement, agreed by a distaste for Russian propaganda and a emotion of “fellas,” which are crudely photoshopped Shiba Inus (aka doges) dressed arsenic Ukrainian soldiers. Like astir things connected nan internet, NAFO started arsenic a joke erstwhile an creator named Kama started giving retired fellas arsenic a reward for charitable donations. But it quickly blossomed into thing overmuch bigger, and someway much serious.
NAFO (or OFAN, if you for illustration nan French acronym) fights its disinformation counter-offensive successful nan comments by shaming propagandists, galvanizing Ukraine supporters, and raising money for charity. It’s an effective strategy. Last summer, NAFO memers ran Russian diplomat Mikhail Ivanovich entirely off Twitter.
Major authorities figures person taken notice. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has reposted NAFO memes and thanked nan group for their service. The legion of self-identified fellas includes US Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, and Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis. US Army Major General Patrick J. Donahoe moreover utilized a fella arsenic his Twitter avatar for a while.
NAFO is simply a spot difficult to define. It has a website (and merch), but there’s nary organized leadership. Instead, its highly online adherents bent retired connected Discord, Reddit, Twitter, and different channels, landing connected their strategy, if you tin telephone it that, done corporate action. But remainder assured, wherever there’s Russian propaganda, NAFO is watching, and if you telephone nan fellas pinch nan #NAFO hashtag, you tin expect them to travel knocking connected your post.
There’s immoderate speculation (promoted by Russian trolls and propaganda outlets) that NAFO is simply a CIA funded psy-op, but astir reliable observers admit it arsenic a grassroots movement. Regardless, nan fellas don’t look to mind. On an net that often feels bleak, NAFO is impervious that posters tin still travel together to make thing great, aliases astatine slightest thing funny and quasi-purposeful.
A twelvemonth into NAFO’s meme-ing, location are countless examples of fellas fighting connected nan beforehand lines, opinionated proud adjacent to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and shedding tears of joyousness astatine nan show of rocket launches. NAFO moreover raised money and paid nan Ukrainian subject to paint their memes connected a tank, now affectionately known arsenic nan Superbonker 9000.
If you want to go a fella, there’s a elemental initiation ritual. Donate to Ukraine and nonstop impervious to NAFO’s hotline, and they’ll make you a civilization fella of your very own.
Click done for immoderate examples of NAFO’s finest memes.
In June, 2022, Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov made a tactical error: he responded to a NAFO troll successful nan comments of 1 of his posts. His nonsensical reply, “You pronounced this nonsense. Not me,” became a rallying outcry for nan fellas. NAFO members brigaded Ulyanov, berating him and filling his posts pinch memes and criticism. Ulyanov, an progressive Twitter user, temporarily stopped tweeting successful response.