Canadian media recently reported that an analysis of over six million tweets found that Russia is targeting Canada to influence public opinion about the war in Ukraine. According to a report by Global News:
June 8, 2022 The study by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy found that huge numbers of tweets and retweets about the war in Ukraine can be traced back to Russia and China, with even more tweets expressing pro-Russian sentiment traced to the United States. Assistant professor Jean-Christophe Boucher said in an interview that the Russian “state apparatus” is associated with many accounts tweeting in Canada, and is influencing posts that are retweeted, liked or repeated by different accounts again and again. The tweets commonly express pro-Russian talking points, including that Ukraine is a fascist state or that NATO wants to expand, posing a threat to Russia. The team of experts at the University of Calgary analyzed 6.2 million tweets from around the world and applied algorithms to trace their origins.
The report says the study also found that in “the Canadian Twitter ecosystem” discussing the war, around 25 percent of the accounts were spreading pro-Russian talking points. Some accounts were “Trojan horses,” with some Canadians unaware the pro-Putin narratives trace their origins back to Russia, China, or right-wing influencers in the US. The Global Influence Operations Report (GIOR) has extensively reported on the convergence of Russian disinformation and US right-wing talking points. GIOR recently published a report centered on a new and developing alliance between US conservatives and European nationalists, a potential means for Russia to exert covert influence in Europe and the US, using Hungary as a platform.
Recent GIOR coverage of foreign interference and disinformation in Canada has included:
- In June, we reported that Canada’s chief election watchdog warned that online disinformation and foreign interference are two of the biggest threats facing Canada’s electoral system.
- In April, we reported that the Canadian government is “on high alert” against Russian disinformation attempts against the country.
- In January, we reported that Canada’s domestic intelligence agency warned that China’s efforts to distort the news and influence media outlets in Canada “have become normalized” and “more sophisticated, frequent, and insidious.