As the investigation over the Skripal poisoning continues, the Kremlin is waging a full–scale information war to promote stories acquitting the Russian government of any involvement in the incident. The low-cost, high-impact nature of social media makes it a useful medium for the Kremlin’s war of narratives and as social media data suggests, Russia is winning, the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab reports:
A review of the most-shared articles on social media suggested that content from Kremlin-owned and pro-Kremlin media outlets far outranked mainstream and independent media on audience engagement statistics. Of the six most popular articles on Twitter and Facebook on the topic of Skripal’s poisoning and the subsequent international response over the past week, four were published by the Kremlin-owned RT, generating 63,000 shares across Facebook and Twitter. At the same time, the two most popular articles from the British mainstream media outlets achieved only 25,400 shares.
Authoritarian rulers have long understood that controlling and manipulating information are crucial to subverting democracy and getting away with breaking the rules, notes analyst Brian Klaas. That’s why dictatorial governments such as China and Russia not only work overtime to control media and censor inconvenient facts but also use troll armies to spew out 24/7 torrents of disinformation, he writes for the Washington Post.