iSANS presents results of research of anti-Belarusian public groups and pages in the Belarusian section of the largest Russia-based social network Vkontakte https://isans.org/toxic. Research results are visualized in the map, featuring geographic attachment and public outreach.
Experts have studied more than 40 public pages and groups containing derogatory statements and narratives regarding Belarusian independence, language, history and culture. In a number of cases not entire group or page has toxic content – it may well be disguised as a city or leisure purposed.
“These groups or pages post derogatory content regarding pro-Belarusian activists, Belarus itself, Ukraine, the West, amounting to propaganda and hate speech,” — explain experts their selection criteria.
Many groups and pages are associated with Russia-backed network of websites or pro-Russian activist groups.
iSANS monitoring group with assistance of the volunteers produced an interactive map of the public pages and groups, reflecting their outreach and influence. Assessment was based the number of page subscribers and views of the publications published within a week.
iSANS experts concluded that at the present moment Russia-backed propaganda machine had been more in a test mode than in a full-fledge function. The largest number of views of posts was about 6000, which would not be rated as high in comparison to leisure or commercial pages. However, the described groups and pages are a ready to use infrastructure and a test-field for propaganda dissemination in Belarusian public.
The map of the toxic public groups and pages is only a part of the multi-faceted study of the Belasian segment of the social networks carried our by the iSANS team. It is an on-going work, and the iSANS monitoring group calls on Belarusian social media users to join monitoring and contribute to the findings through a form on the iSANS website.
“There is a need to understand the scale and scope of the penetration of disinformation and propaganda aimed at Belarus into Belarusian segment of the social networks. This knowledge will be a foundation for building a system of counter narratives and counter actions. Active social network users definitely should be a part of this work”, — conclude the iSANS experts.