Disinformation and Russia-Ukrainian War on Canadian Social Media
The Russia-Ukrainian war has led to a large disinformation campaign, largely spread through social media. Canada has been a target of these influence campaigns to affect Canadian public opinions. In this policy brief, we venture to examine the prevalence of pro-Russian narratives on Canadian social media as well as identify major influencers creating and spreading such narratives. Additionally, using artificial intelligence, we seek to examine the reach and nature of pro-Russian disinformation narratives.
Our research team has been collecting more than 6.2 million Tweets globally since January 2022 to monitor and measure Russian influence operations on social media. We find that pro-Russian narratives promoted in the Canadian social media ecosystem on twitter are divided into two large communities:
1) accounts influenced by sources from the United States and 2) those largely influenced by sources from international sources from Russia, Europe, and China.
First, pro-Russian discourse on Canadian Twitter blames NATO for the conflict suggesting that Russia’s invasion was a result of NATO’s expansionism or aggressive intentions toward Russia. In this context, pro-Russian propaganda argues that the West has no moral high ground to condemn the invasion and nations such as Canada, the US, and the UK are trying to force Europe into this conflict to benefit materially. Second, it is suggested that Western nations are propping up fascists in Ukraine, thus justifying Russia’s actions. Thirdly, pro-Russian narrative attempts to amplify mistrust of democratic institutions, be it the media, international institutions, or the Liberal government. Faced with the challenges associated with foreign interference, it is important to gain a deeper understanding of the spread of disinformation in Canada.
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