Novel Science, a US project researching media manipulation, is reporting that Russia appears to be behind a viral Twitter thread claiming to show Ukrainians torturing each other. According to a report by Novel Science’s Hoaxlines blog:
March 22, 2022 A thread claiming to show Ukrainians mercilessly beating men, women, and children has gone viral. That Ukrainians could even be outside their homes with the non-stop shelling beggars belief. Still, I found a lot of questionable details about this account and the post, followers, and retweeters. Archive history shows the user claimed to be from Scotland earlier but has since removed that from the profile. The account used to have a listed name that looked something like “Elon Musk,” at which point it promoted links for “eloninvest.org.” The account went dormant for a years-long period, as is common with inauthentic accounts. The user is clearing 400 tweets per day, with the majority of tweets in support of pro-Kremlin narratives. This is an exceptionally high number of tweets, especially from an account that had no tweets for years before this. TruthNest assesses the account as highly active and highly influential. Content from this user may be designed to reduce support for Ukrainians by portraying them as Nazis or violent.
Read the rest here.
According to the Novel Science report, the Twitter post linked to Russia was shared by people in the West on the far right and left over 20,000 times before Twitter removed it. The editor of Novel Science pointed out that both the account that originally posted the violent videos and a second account suspended by Twitter were previously amplified by US conservative influencer Jack Posobiec.
The Global Influence Operations Report has extensively reported how pro-Russian sentiment is spreading online as an extension of US “culture war” politics and that Russian propaganda is being amplified by QAnon conspiracy theorists and far-right American political figures, including Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson. GIOR has also recently published a report on a new and developing alliance between US conservatives and European nationalists, seen as a means for Russia to exert covert influence in Europe and the US. According to that report, culture war issues play a prominent role in that alliance. As the report synopsis states:
Russia is a prolific actor in the influence operations arena, both in the US and Europe. Russian President PUTIN has expressed an interest in Russia becoming the ideological center of a new global conservative alliance, and European far-right leaders have taken pro-Russian positions based on a similar ideology. Hungary is at the center of a developing alliance between European far-right nationalists and American conservatives that Russia could potentially exploit for use in information warfare. This alliance operates under the rubric of “National Conservatism,” centered on national sovereignty, cultural identity, and opposition to global institutions and representing a potentially radical change for the US conservative movement away from long-held Reagan-era philosophies.
Download the full report here.