Russian propaganda on social media during the 2022 invasion of Ukraine

Abstract

#propaganda #socialmedia #bots

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was accompanied by practices of information warfare, yet existing evidence is largely anecdotal while large-scale empirical evidence is lacking. Here, we analyze the spread of pro-Russian support on social media. For this, we collected messages from Twitter with pro-Russian support. Our findings suggest that pro-Russian messages received ∼251,000 retweets and thereby reached around 14.4 million users. We further provide evidence that bots played a disproportionate role in the dissemination of pro-Russian messages and amplified its proliferation in early-stage diffusion. Countries that abstained from voting on the United Nations Resolution ES-11/1 such as India, South Africa, and Pakistan showed pronounced activity of bots. Overall, 20.28% of the spreaders are classified as bots, most of which were created at the beginning of the invasion. Together, our findings suggest the presence of a large-scale Russian propaganda campaign on social media and highlight the new threats to society that originate from it. Our results also suggest that curbing bots may be an effective strategy to mitigate such campaigns.

Tipo de Publicação
articles-and-papers
Tema
disinformation
Publicado por
EPJ Data Science
Data de Publicação
2023
Idioma
english
Estado
open-access
DOI
10.1140/epjds/s13688-023-00414-5
Autores
Dominique Geissler; Dominik Bär; Nicolas Pröllochs; Stefan Feuerriegel