-Time-series engagement with the fake news (first 1.5 days). Blue: Engagement through popular (high follower count) accounts, Red: Nominal value of engagement
In recent years, Russian digital information operations, including disinformation, fake news, and election meddling have assumed prominence in international news and scholarly research outlets. A simple Google Trends query shows us that 'fake news' as a term enters into global mainstream lexicon starting with October 2016, peaking in the immediate...
This chapter analyzes the multimodal strategies used by Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, the two frontrunners of the Democrat and Republican nominations for the 2016 US Presidential Elections, in their online campaign, and specifically in their official Facebook pages. My research will discuss how the two candidates have employed multi-semiotic fea...
... It is less concerned with making the Turkish public "like" Russia and more about aligning Turkish public opinion with Russian policy on key strategic issues (Unver, 2019a, p. 42). Accordingly, domestic pro-Russian social media accounts and bots tend to disseminate accurate yet distorted and decontextualized information (Unver, 2019b). Furthermore, domestic pro-Russian accounts and bots use timing to their advantage to push a factually accurate narrative during crisis-prone periods to distort the public narrative in favor of Russia. ...
... SputnikTR offers news from different geographies and positions itself as an alternative to the "west-centrist" approach in the world media. At the same time, SputnikTR positions itself as overwhelmingly pro-opposition with much of its local reporting being critical of the Erdoğan regime (Unver, 2019b). On the other hand, international coverage is mostly Turkish translations of Russian news content published by SN, SputnikTR's parent institution. ...
Established in 2014, SputnikTR (a localized version of Sputnik News) is the most popular pro-Russian media outlet active in Turkey. The news content published by SputnikTR’s Twitter account currently attracts the highest engagement rates among the international public broadcasters active in Turkey. SputnikTR’s official Twitter account has more followers (1M) than Sputnik News English (326K). This article argues that SputnikTR’s Twitter account is used to promote Russian vaccine technologies in Turkey. We believe that it is also a conduit for the dissemination of pro-Russian as well as anti-Western narratives to the Turkish online public. Using a computational methodology, we collected 2,782 vaccine-related tweets posted by SputnikTR’s Twitter account between April 2019 and April 2021. We deployed framing as well as critical discourse analysis to study the contents of our dataset. Our findings suggest that SputnikTR uses (a) disinformation as well as misinformation in vaccine-related news and (b) unethical communication techniques to maximize engagement with content posted on Twitter. Our findings are significant insofar as they are the first documented instances of Russian propaganda efforts on Turkish Twitter. These efforts seem to be focused on promoting the Russian vaccine while encouraging public hesitancy toward Western vaccine technologies.
To many observers, events leading up to and following Donald Trump’s presidential election victory of 2016 appeared both novel and ominous. The news was filled with stories not only of alleged collaboration between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, but also of Russian election meddling within the digital space of the internet. The latter included claims that Russian agents had gained access to state voter registration systems and other US infrastructure, along with ongoing reports that Russian “trolls” were posing online as American activists and spreading disinformation on social media to skew the election in Trump’s favour. In addition, personalities and websites associated with the “alt-right” were playing an outsized role in promoting the Trump campaign. Alternative right and leftwing information sources continue to be accused of spreading Russian propaganda. Such claims are assessed here with respect to broader trends pertaining to state propaganda, commercial news framing practices, and information warfare. Close examination of the contemporary media environment suggests that there are far greater dangers to an ostensibly democratic US public sphere than those posed by the online activities of foreign state agents, or by domestic groups and individuals deemed to hold extremist views.
Authoritarian regimes and other ‘bad’ actors in the Middle East are using social media for large scale deception operations. With little transparency from tech companies and poor regulation around disinformation, monitoring and tracking those operations falls uncomfortably upon journalists, activists and academics. It is therefore necessary to share and discuss emerging techniques of identifying deception with academics across disciplines. It is also important to be transparent about detection methods in an environment where the terms ‘bot’ and ‘troll’ are frequently deployed against those who have opposing views. Being clear about methods of identifying deception can be instructive in a number of ways. Without identifying and acknowledging such deception, sociological studies of social media will inevitably be plagued with ‘corrupted’ data. Scholars using social media data must be adept at filtering out such deception.
The literature on online disinformation studies focuses disproportionately on the United States - especially on the 2016 Presidential elections – and has failed to generate an equally robust and diverse research agenda elsewhere.1 Empirical studies have drawn on a very narrow pool of cases, with the overwhelming majority of the scientific and policy focus on what Russia is doing in the United States, or a handful of Western nations.2 This impairs construction of a truly comparative and generalizable scientific inquiry, especially in terms of what disinformation (deliberate use of false information to deceive) or influence operations (deploying a mix of accurate, semi-accurate and false information to achieve strategic goals) mean for the broader world and international competition dynamics. To that end, the study of both fields is in need of longitudinal and comparative works: to provide perspective on how disinformation dynamics observed at one time are different than those at others; how dynamics observed in one country differ from those in other countries; and how operations conducted by different external actors vary. What’s more, availability bias afflicts the wider disinformation studies field, as very few studies deal with the question of what the existence of disinformation means in relation to the cases where information manipulation doesn’t exist. In this essay, we examine Russian information operations in Turkey as a first step towards addressing these shortcomings in the literature.
and Keywords US-Turkey relations were built primarily on a security axis in the aftermath of WW II. Af ter a relatively easygoing period in the 1950s, relations suffered from a deficit of trust by the mid-1960s. Radicalization of public opinion in the 1960s and 1970s and the near un conditional support Washington has given to Turkey's frequent military interventions kept a residual anti-Americanism alive. In the post-Cold War period, the Gulf War and the emergence of newly independent countries with ample energy resources in the post-Sovi et space placed Turkey back on the geopolitical map. In the age of "democratization" and the Islamist-Jihadi challenge, Turkey's characteristics as a secular and electoral democra tic Muslim country and a NATO member seeking EU membership made it more valuable for the United States. At the same time, the two sides never adequately dealt with the re ality that their interests diverged considerably after the Cold War. Turkey's refusal to al low the deployment of US troops prior to the invasion of Iraq led to a political downgrad ing of the Turkish military by the Pentagon. After a brief period of close relations under President Obama who called for a "model partnership" between the two allies, as a fall out from the Syrian civil war and the increasing authoritarianism of the Turkish govern ment, relations turned increasingly "transactional" and personalized. Under President Trump the crises that plagued the relations deepened as Ankara and Moscow built closer relations and as bilateral relations increasingly relied on personalistic ties between the two leaders.
The Liberal International Order (LIO) is currently being undermined not only by states such as Russia but also by voters in the West. We argue that both veins of discontent are driven by resentment towards the LIO's status hierarchy, rather than just economic grievances. Approaching discontent historically and sociologically, we show that there are two strains of recognition struggles against the LIO: one in the core of the West, driven by populist politicians and their voters, and one on the semi-periphery, fuelled by competitively authoritarian governments and their supporters. At this particular moment in history, these struggles are digitally, ideologically and organisationally interconnected in their criticism of LIO institutions, amplifying each other. The LIO is thus being hollowed out from within at a time when it is also facing some of its greatest external challenges.