Russian trolls and other pro-government bots have managed to turn the Internet into a platform for the Russian government to disseminate propaganda.
But now, according to the authors of a new paper, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Kremlin is using the platform to promote propaganda as well.
The paper, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, argues that Russian trolls have become so effective because they are able to harness a phenomenon called “social media contagion,” or the phenomenon where a user base reacts to a viral story by sharing it with friends and family.
The same mechanism has also been used by the Kremlin to disseminately pro-Kremlin content online.
“Social media contagions can be thought of as a phenomenon that allows for rapid dissemination of information, especially when the dissemination is directed at a large group of people,” the paper’s authors wrote.
In the past year, Russia has seen an unprecedented amount of political and social unrest.
The country is experiencing its worst election since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The protests against the government’s decision to suspend elections have been largely peaceful, but some have been met with violence, including a deadly shooting by a pro-Russian gunman in a Moscow restaurant in August.
Russian authorities have sought to downplay the political turmoil in the country and its role in the Ukraine conflict.
In the face of mounting evidence of Russian meddling, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov have urged Western nations to “stop the witch-hunt.”
In a statement, the Kremlin blamed “fake news” and “unbalanced media” for fueling the unrest in the United States and Europe.
But it has also claimed that the unrest is a response to the United Nations’ decision to impose sanctions on Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea.
The authors of the new paper say social media contagioion is an important and valuable aspect of online social influence.
The ability to leverage social media can have real and potentially disruptive consequences,” said Michael Geist, a professor of computer science and information sciences at the University of Maryland.”
But social media is not the only tool that governments use to influence public opinion.
“The paper also says that the ability to harness social media has become increasingly important as more information is increasingly available on the Web.”
The use of social media for political communication is becoming more pervasive as governments use it to disseminacy information, to disseminating disinformation, and to promote their own agenda,” the authors wrote in the paper.”
More information is available on social media platforms than ever before, and political campaigns are more likely to be led by users who share their views on topics that are widely known on the social network.
In the future, the researchers suggest, governments may be able to leverage the spread of political information online by harnessing bots to spread misinformation and disseminate misinformation in other ways.””
But its use by governments is becoming increasingly important, and it is the use of these tools that creates the opportunity for propaganda to gain traction.”
In the future, the researchers suggest, governments may be able to leverage the spread of political information online by harnessing bots to spread misinformation and disseminate misinformation in other ways.
“It is not clear how to effectively use these tools, but the potential for abuse is great,” Geist said.
“In the next two to three years, we may see social media spread in ways that make it harder for journalists to accurately report on political developments.”
For more on social networks, check out our interactive timeline on how Russia and the United Kingdom influence the media.