Big data exposes (Russia’s) big falsehoods



Ever since Vladimir Putin took power, the Kremlin has steadily tightened its ligature around the Russian media. In 2000, Putin signed Russia’s Information Security Doctrine. Updated last December, it is now a third the length of its predecessor, analyst John Pollock writes for the MIT Technology Review.

“Those missing two thirds are all the tasks Russia undertook to prevent outside influence,” says Keir Giles, a researcher with the Conflict Studies Research Centre in the U.K. “They’ve had a couple of decades to put this in place, and there’s been a real acceleration over the last four years.”

An original analysis undertaken for MIT Technology Review by Semantic Visions, a Czech startup generating “complex open-source intelligence” risk assessments, confirms the Kremlin’s grip, Pollock adds:

Using the “world’s largest semantic news database,” Semantic Visions explored the MH17 shoot-down in 2014 alongside other major stories in Russia’s war against Ukraine (see “Russian Disinformation Technology”). They compared 328,614,220 English-language and 58,207,194 Russian-language articles, with an average length of 3,000 characters, between January 2014 and April 2016. These are culled from over 25 million sources the analysts at Semantic Visions have discovered and classified, of which they analyze around half a million daily. The results illuminate the domestic and foreign interests of Kremlin propaganda, and they cast an unflattering light on aspects of Western media coverage.


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