With social media users increasingly turning away from Big Tech giants like Twitter and Facebook and seeking out new platforms that align with their views, Russia’s disinformation army is working overtime to infiltrate these new alternatives. A new report from the McCain Institute and the Carter Center examines Russia’s presence on these new platforms which have allowed disinformation to flourish. Sites like Gab, Rumble, and Odysee often feature Russian disinformation with little or no content moderation.
“As the Kremlin is being stress-tested by Western economic sanctions and Big Tech moderation actions, it is finding novel channels and deceptive means to spread its propaganda. The shift to a targeted social media outreach strategy and the establishment of parallel markets for online advertising pose new challenges for mitigating Russian disinformation. While the war in Ukraine persists, Russia will continue waging an information war on Western audiences to sow distrust and generate public dissatisfaction with Western leaders because of their support for the Ukrainian cause. In response to these challenges, we must continue to expose Russian efforts to undermine democracy, as sunlight is often the best disinfectant, and the electric light is the best policeman. With the exposure of these dynamics, policymakers, businesses, and social media platforms can be empowered to make decisions that limit the reach and influence of Russian propaganda without unduly restricting the right to free speech. Democracies thrive on accurate information and commitments to human rights, and any response to Russia’s blatant attack on Western democracy must hold true to these responsibilities,” the report states.
The report, “Russian Disinformation Grows Resilient to Western Sanctions and Big Tech Pushback,” was written by McCain Institute Program Manager for Human Rights & Democracy Pedro Pizano and the Carter Center Manager of Data and Analytics Michael Scholtens. It outlines the extent of pro-Kremlin disinformation narratives online and the tactics the Russians are using to skirt crackdowns by the Big Tech companies.