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Social media analysis disrupts Russian digital narratives


Digital intelligence is crucial to tackle tactics and narratives engaged with by Russians which shape mentalities and prolong support for the Ukraine invasion.

In an age where large swathes of political debates and developments unfold on social media, platforms such as VKontakte (VK) – the Russian equivalent of Facebook, TikTok, and Telegram are invaluable in examining how ordinary Russians feel about their country’s invasion of Ukraine.  

Well over one year into the full-scale invasion, researchers rely on limited channels and resources to bypass Russia’s isolation, heavy monitoring, and censorship. From infantry soldiers to citizens with friends and family on the frontline, social media platforms continue to give an intimate look into the perspectives of people who would otherwise be inaccessible.   

The percentage of Russians who have access to social media is not a representative sample of the population as a whole. Connectivity and technology vary throughout the region and the use of VPNs further plays a significant role in accessing content outside of Russia.   

Nevertheless, online platforms give crucial context to the perceptions which have allowed the war to develop and continue. They also provide an opportunity to examine the true extent of the Russian media’s reach and whether the narratives found inside their small screens differ from what is projected on their big ones.  

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