Information warfare in the Internet – analysis of summer findings
Analysis of cases gathered in Poland during two summer months of research undertaken in the framework of the IVF project entitled „Information warfare in the Internet. Exposing and countering pro-Kremlin disinformation in the CEEC” shows the extensiveness of pro-Kremlin propaganda. Here are some of the narratives and „big subjects” uncovered during the monitoring of over 30 websites: „Ukrainians have territorial claims against Poland”, „NATO is provoking Putin”, „NATO acts like Hitler”, „NATO is a tool of America”, „Russophobic Polish authorities”, „Poland should join fellow Slavs”, „Ukraine promotes Bandera”, „Volhynia massacre”, „Donald Trump – great opportunity for Europe”. As far as the manipulation techniques used in the articles these include:
- fake interviews (e.g. with Gen. Różański and Gen. Tomaszycki);
- providing false facts about Russian involvement in Ukraine;
- providing information, without any source, to cause emotional reaction;
- misleading title of the articles;
- using old quotes as a new information for propaganda purposes;
- conspiracy theories (e.g. chemtrails, NATO’s goal is to protect the interests of a small elite group);
- concealing facts which are not favourable for Russia (e.g. Katyn massacre denial);
- using quotes out of context.
So far, although widespread, pro-Kremlin propaganda in Poland seems to have problems with influencing the mainstream media. Another characteristic of the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign in Poland is that there is also a lot of articles which seems to be informative but are actually opinions which hinders reporting of it. Mixing opinions and facts is a common pattern observed in many websites.
The analyzed articles were published on such websites as pl.sputniknews.com, www.neon24.pl, zmianynaziemi.pl., dziennikpolityczny.pl, kresy.pl and others. What unites them is their common and negative approach towards NATO and the European Union.
Regarding pro-Russian trolling in the comments section, one article published on the popular news web portal Onet.pl was analyzed. The article entitled „Atlantic Council: NATO must be prepared for the Russian invasion” had 2109 comments and the focus was on comments without Polish characters (such as „ł”, „ó”, „ż). The conclusions and „big subjects” present in those comments are as follows: „Poland will be destroyed by atomic bomb”, „Poland will be left alone”, „American military industry is pushing for war”. There were also a number of anti-Semitic comments.
The project is co-financed by the International Visegrad Fund www.visegradfund.org