Russia is actively developing new ways to spread its disinformation after the European Union blocked the RT and Sputnik TV channels, the Kremlin’s main propaganda resources, due to its invasion of Ukraine. This is stated in the article posted on AP.
Six months after the full-scale war started, the number of sites pushing the same Russian propaganda content has increased dramatically. It is reported that some sites have been rebranded to disguise it, and the Russian Federation has shifted part of the propaganda duties to diplomats. Some of the content has been published on new websites that earlier had no clear links with Russia.
New York-based disinformation research and monitoring firm NewsGuard has identified 250 websites that are actively spreading Russian disinformation about the war. In recent months, dozens of new pages have joined them.
False messages on these sites include, but are not limited to, the following narratives:
- Ukrainian army staged several deadly attacks against Russia to gain global support
- President Volodymyr Zelensky falsifies his appearance in public
- Ukrainian refugees commit crimes in Germany and Poland
Some sites pretend to be independent think tanks or news agencies.
About half of them disseminate messages in English, and others in French, German or Italian. Many of these resources were created long before the war and had not been linked with the Russian government until they suddenly began to spread the theses of the Kremlin.
Although YouTube, TikTok and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, pledged to remove RT and Sputnik from their platforms in the EU, researchers have found that in some cases Russia has circumvented the ban simply by publishing its propaganda on other accounts.
The Europe-based Disinformation Situation Centre has discovered that some RT video content is appearing on social media under a new brand and logo.
Experts believe that more aggressive moderation of content on social networks could make it more difficult for Russia to promote its propaganda.