On March 4, 2015, Brookings published a special report targeting the issue of ISIS social media presence. The authors have identified 40,000 ISIS supporters on Twitter. How does it work? What does it mean in the conflicts of 21 century?
The core findings by the researchers are the following:
- In October through November 2014, at least 46,000 Twitter accounts were used by ISIS supporters.
- A sample of 20,000 confirmed ISIS supporters was examined to extract demographics data, with a plurality of users apparently residing in the territories controlled by the Islamic State. The second-most common location for ISIS supporters was Saudi Arabia.
- Nearly one in five ISIS supporting accounts designated English as their primary language. Almost three quarters selected Arabic, and one in 20 selected French.
- Thousands of accounts have been suspended by Twitter since October 2014, measurably degrading ISIS’s ability to project its propaganda to wider audiences.
Note: last year I published the research on the role of social media in popular protests in Ukraine
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For the international community Russian LIfeNews TV channel is a classic example of the worst propaganda and misinformation. It’s so-called journalists follow insurgents in Donbass and appear with their camera as soon as shelling or fight begin. Some even claim, if you see Russian journalists with camera, expect bombing or shelling. LifeNews poses itself as “the most breaking news”. They always ready to pay for unique content – user’s footage of catastrophes or accidents.
This week LifeNews team among many other media came to Minsk Summit – Ukraine-Russian-Germany-France talks to stop the war in Donbass through cease fire. On the eve of talk LifeNews journalist Aleksandr Yanyshev assaulted two Ukrainian journalists. He started yelling at them and when run out of arguments, he started …barking. It was shot by other journalists and published online.
The episode was widely discussed in social media and central Ukrainian TV stations. Users started mocking the behavior of Russian journalists producing Coub video. Coub is a platform that helps to create looped video. It is easily managed and let users add music and footage from elsewhere.
The best examples of mocking LifeNews incident in Minsk are bellow:
1. LifeNews and Russian talk – http://coub.com/view/4z8z7
2. Lifenews and Who Let the Dog Out? http://coub.com/view/4z9nj
3. LifeNews as idiot http://coub.com/view/4zbu2
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Russian media are famous for biased coverage of politics, especially regarding the war in Ukraine, led by insurgents and backed by Russian military. Many Russians see the war in Ukraine just as a minor episode of a greater geopolitical conflict – the one between West (civilized world) and East (Russia). Thus, the humanitarian catastrophe in Donbass and thousands of lives of local population and soldiers do not matter.
In video bellow, Russian journalists discuss so-called “parade” of Russian troops to Warsaw, Berlin and other European capitals. Initially, I thought, the program is a kind of John Stewart’s “The Daily Show”, but those journalists pretend to do reporting – discussing the scenarios of the future preparations to May 9 celebration – anniversary of the victory in the World War II. Meanwhile some pro-Ukrainian activists prepared subtitles in the video to target the international community.
Second video shows insurgents in Lugansk regions addressing to public on the eve of Orthodox Christmas. A girl sends best wishes with Christmas and hopes for the victory in a fight against Ukraine. “But if we gonna loose, we will blow the world”, – she says to threaten the world with nuclear blast. That’s how the creativity for so-called “ruskiy mir” (Russian world) works.
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While the international media and world political leaders question if regular Russian troops fight in hybrid war in Ukraine, Russian soldiers in Donbas shoot amateur video and post it online. Officially, Russia declines the presence of its troops in Donbas, but civic activists and journalists have collected dozens of evidences of Russian aggression in Ukraine. Most of it published in social media. In the first video, Russian soldiers are preparing to drive to Vuhlehirsk, a city in Debaltsevo area where heavy fights are led by insurgents against Ukrainian army. “Hello, Chita!”, “Hello, Ulan-Ude!” – Russian soldiers shouting out the names of Russian cities. Chita is located in Zabaikaliye, Russia, while Ulan-Ude – in Buriatia, Russia.
In the second video, Russian soldiers in Donbas are fighting against …fish. They used grenades to get fish from the lake in Donetsk region. Soldiers identify themselves, shouting out the names of Russian cities: Cheliabinsk, Perm, Belgorod.
Ukrainian media regularly publish pieces about Russian military involvement. On Feb 6, 2014, Cenzor.net.ua published a story about Russian tank captured by Ukrainian soldiers near Debaltsevo.
Recently, Ukrainian activists and bloggers have launched a site to collect the names of separatists supporters. The information about more than 22,600 peoples collected so far.
A team of authors within Carnegie Corporation research project has recently published a report “Protest in the Age of Social Media.” The authors (Joshua A. Tucker, Megan Metzger, Duncan Penfold-Brown, Richard Bonneau, John Jost, Jonathan Nagler) analyze how Ukrainian opposition leaders and, more noticeably, civic activists used social media to reach audiences and bring the Yanukovych regime down. The authors are looking for implications of social media impact:
If social media is indeed changing the ways in which protests emerge and evolve, then what is learned about the Ukrainian situation will provide important lessons for understanding and anticipating political developments all over the world.
The authors suggest to view the impact of social media in Ukraine in three main dimensions, focusing on the use of #euromaidan / #євромайдан hashtags and Facebook updates:
First, social media can help to build a protest movement, and it can do so with remarkable speed. Second, once a movement exists, social media can play an important role in recruiting new members and encouraging participation. Third, once protests are in full swing, social media can spread information about them.
The interest of researchers for the impact of social media use in Ukraine in 2013-2014 remains high and leads to new publications from worldwide aiming to undestand the nature of social media interaction as a vibrant medium of public discussions and self-organization. Just to remind, in Boston, in May 2014, I have published my thesis about the role of social media in news gethering in Ukraine.
Information war against Ukraine run by Kremlin-backed media is supported by pro-Russian puppets, employed by Russian strategists. The recent evidence of this scheme leads to Dragana Trifkovic, a 38-year old woman from Serbia, who joined other foreigners on so-called LNR and DNR elections in Lugansk and Donetsk temporary occupied regions on November 2, 2014. As a Serbian citizen, Trifkovic left many traces of her visit to Donbass via social media – she was posting photos of her meetings with Russian terrorists in Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Known as a supporter of Russia, Trifkovic was linked to neo-Nazi Russian groups and was heavily commented in Twitter.
On November 9, 2014 she deleted her Twitter account – @DrTrifkovic. Nevertheless, Google cache kept screenshots of her profile:
While her Twitter account is deleted, her Facebook profile is active. A supporter of terrorists exrpesses her love to Russian President Vladimir Putin:
Serbian “expert” might have different reasons to love Putin, but her links to neo-nazi groups in Russia question self-proclaimed good intentions of so called LNR and DNR authorities.
Anton Shehovtsev analyses in his blog.
Kremlin will employ puppet “election monitors” that will “observe” and legitimise the “elections” held by the terrorists. Evidence suggests that two “election monitoring organisations” have been in charge of setting up the “election observation missions” for the DNR/LNR: the Eurasian Observatory of Democracy and Elections (EODE) run by Belgian fascist Luc Michel and the European Centre for Geopolitical Analysis (ECGA) run by Polish far right politician Mateusz Piskorski – both have been in the service of the Kremlin’s foreign policy since 2005-2006.
Trifkovic describes herself as a Director General of Center for Geostrategic Studies in Belgrade and claims she is an author at some Serbian sites, such as Fond Slobodan Jovanović, Geopolitika and Novi Standard. Seems, the intellectual level of Serbian elites is quite low if such experts represent Serbian think tanks.
Recently my team from Internews Ukraine has created a video tutorial in cyber security for Internet users in Ukraine. We had a task to deliver key issues in cyber security in an interactive way – to create animation that will simply explain what to do in order to be a meaningful user. How to use https instead of http, how to check the links received in email, how to avoid phishing attacks and build strong passwords. Since the tutorial lasts for almost 5 minutes, we have divided it into five parts – in each video one can find two tips.
In my opinion, users should know much more about cyber security and the list of 10 tips is not complete, but with this tutorial, users may start exploring the issue of cyber security and learn more on their own. The video is in Ukrainian, nevertheless, you can guess from illustrations what it is talking about. If you have any comments on it, please share, what should be improved and what do you like about the tutorial.
Part 1 10 tips in cyber security – http://youtu.be/EckuLLnq4mQ
Part 2 10 tips in cyber security – http://youtu.be/dLjB6Sv3ATg
Part 3 10 tips in cyber security – http://youtu.be/-ZZDKV-rw6M
Part 4 10 tips in cyber security – http://youtu.be/wp2o9EdgfzE
Part 5 10 tips in cyber security – http://youtu.be/rjiyRxO6pIQ
And the full tutorial in a single video: