March 22 2022, 13:49 pm

Scottish Academic Accused of Helping Russian War Effort With Pro-Kremlin Propaganda

UK media is report­ing that an Edin­burgh-based aca­d­e­m­ic has been accused of effec­tive­ly help­ing the Russ­ian war effort by shar­ing pro-Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da on social media. Accord­ing to a report in The Herald:

An Edin­burgh-based aca­d­e­m­ic at a lead­ing uni­ver­si­ty has been accused of “effec­tive­ly help­ing the Russ­ian war effort” after shar­ing pro-Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da on social media. Lead­ing cam­paign group the Com­mu­ni­ty Secu­ri­ty Trust said ques­tions should be asked about the stan­dard of teach­ing at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh, LBC has report­ed. Tim Hay­ward, pro­fes­sor of envi­ron­men­tal polit­i­cal the­o­ry at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Edin­burgh, retweet­ed a Russ­ian rep­re­sen­ta­tive to the Unit­ed Nations describ­ing the hor­rif­ic attacks on that mater­ni­ty hos­pi­tal in Mar­i­upol as “fake news”. He then wrote: “As long as we’re still able to hear two sides of the sto­ry we should con­tin­ue striv­ing to do so.” He’s also pushed arti­cles to his fol­low­ers, which num­ber near­ly 20, 000, that the US wants the war in Ukraine “to con­tin­ue”, and crit­i­cised the West for fail­ing to con­sid­er “Rus­si­a’s legit­i­mate inter­ests”. Dave Rich, direc­tor of pol­i­cy at the Com­mu­ni­ty Secu­ri­ty Trust, told LBC: “We have seen over the years that Rus­sia uses its pro­pa­gan­da as part of its war effort to cov­er-up what it is doing, and when British aca­d­e­mics ampli­fy and endorse that com­plete­ly false pro­pa­gan­da, whether they mean to or not, effec­tive­ly they are help­ing the Russ­ian war effort and they are giv­ing that mes­sage to direct­ly to their stu­dents.“ “Aca­d­e­mics have to be free to think, and to write, and to speak about what­ev­er they want but the con­cern should be where they are get­ting their infor­ma­tion and how they are eval­u­at­ing it. “And is this is how they do their aca­d­e­m­ic work – if every­thing they teach is based on con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and lies from a dic­ta­tor­ship that is pur­su­ing a war in the way that these tweets have done. “What does that say about what they are teach­ing in their uni­ver­si­ties and the stan­dards that their uni­ver­si­ties are enforcing?”

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Renée DiRes­ta, the tech­ni­cal research man­ag­er at the Stan­ford Inter­net Obser­va­to­ry, recent­ly described what she calls “ampli­gan­da,” a term used to describe pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion in the spread of propaganda:

In fact, we have a very old word for per­sua­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion with an agen­da: pro­pa­gan­da. That term, how­ev­er, comes with his­tor­i­cal bag­gage. It pre­sumes that gov­ern­ments, author­i­ty fig­ures, insti­tu­tions, and mass media are forc­ing ideas on reg­u­lar peo­ple from the top down. But more and more, the oppo­site is hap­pen­ing. Far from being mere­ly a tar­get, the pub­lic has become an active par­tic­i­pant in cre­at­ing and selec­tive­ly ampli­fy­ing nar­ra­tives that shape real­i­ties. Per­haps the best word for this emer­gent bot­tom-up dynam­ic is one that doesn’t exist quite yet: ampli­gan­da, the shap­ing of per­cep­tion through ampli­fi­ca­tion. It can orig­i­nate from an online nobody or an onscreen celebri­ty. No sin­gle per­son or orga­ni­za­tion bears respon­si­bil­i­ty for its trans­mis­sion. And it is hav­ing a pro­found effect on democ­ra­cy and society.

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