Seven things you should know about pro-Kremlin disinformation
1) Pro-Kremlin disinformation can look like just another news story
Claims made in pro-Kremlin fake news stories are sometimes simply taken out of the blue. This has for example been the case when it has been claimed that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by Ukrainian armed forces, when there is. However, in most cases, pro-Kremlin disinformation stories use pre-existing knowledge and prejudice to make their fake news seem probable. One such example was about the kidnapping and rape of a 13-year-old “Lisa” in Germany by a group of newly arrived refugees. The story was spread shortly after events in Cologne, Germany, when many women had been harassed by groups of men with foreign background. That contributed to making the disinformation story about “Lisa” sound plausible.
2) It comes from Russia Today and Sputnik
RT (Russia Today) and Sputnik are the international flagships of Russia’s ongoing disinformation campaigns.about them is that they are not independent; they do not want to be impartial; and they produce fake news to promote political objectives. Also, .
3) … and from many sites that hide their links to Russia
An example of a site that does not advertise its affiliation with RT is the YouTube channel In the Now, which makes itself popular bywith the potential to go viral. Once social media users “like” the videos, they will begin to see videos with pro-Kremlin political messaging in their feed. But also other media share, knowingly or unknowingly, narratives which include pro-Kremlin disinformation. Check out with almost than 3,500 examples of the spread into both openly pro-Kremlin and other media.
4) They look like facts, but they are not
Making something which isn’t true sound or look convincing isn’t necessarily difficult. You can create the false impression that the Russian president is highly popular in the US by simply. You can also present or as instruments of global US-led conspiracies to overthrow governments and hope people will believe in your conspiracy theory. At the less entertaining end of the spectrum, you can make an actor claim to be the eye-witness of , which never happened, or you can let a news host say that a little girl has been killed, .
5) Their message is: Be afraid! You face a massive threat: from migrants, from Muslims, from invented disasters
Making use of concerns in societies about migration and religious minorities is an important part of the pro-Kremlin disinformation toolbox. Find out more about how disinformation about migrants in EU member states has been used in pro-Kremlin media in.
6) The message is: Don’t trust anyone! Especially not your media
Sowing distrust in the independence of journalism and media as such is another key message in pro-Kremlin outlets. This message makes their own bias and disinformation look normal, and at the same time, the message weakens targeted societies, as it challenges the idea that media can pursue truth on behalf of all of society and make society a better place. RT (Russia Today) leads by example: Investigations into RT’s target audiences have shown that these at one point even begin to appreciate RT being “”.
7) Why? “To challenge democratic values and divide Europe”
The wording that the aim of pro-Kremlin disinformation is “to challenge democratic values” and “divide Europe” is taken frompassed by the European Parliament. We know that the disinformation campaign is centrally coordinated by Russia’s authorities and that it inscribes itself into . We know quite a lot about over the disinformation messaging in the media they control, or which are loyal to them.
You can stay updated about pro-Kremlin disinformation, its messages and methods and what is being done to push back, by following the work of EU’s East Stratcom Task Force on, on , on our and by , the Disinformation Review. Finally, you can support us in our work by cases of disinformation to our database.