Kremlin's mass production of disinformation about coronavirus
The European Union Foreign Relations Service (EEAS) reported that pro-Kremlin social media accounts and the pro-Kremlin press are trying to escalate “suspicion, panic and fear” and weaken confidence in the health systems of EU countries, by running a disinformation campaign in various languages of the EU countries.
“It is easy to get the impression that pro-Kremlin disinformation efforts on the coronavirus are all over the place, broadcasting conflicting messages.
The pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets are not attempting to “sell an idea”, but rather to confuse the audience. While journalists from reputable news outlets painstakingly check and re-check sources and data, the disinformation outlets spread “alternative facts”. The information space is occupied with lies; a fog of fakes obscures the facts. Occupying the “voids”.
Information in an authoritarian state or organisation has an entirely different function than in a democratic society. In a democratic discourse, a statement can, and will, be challenged. A claim will be questioned; criticism and dissent is the core of the democracy. In the authoritarian society, any speech act is about loyalty. Loyalty towards a leader, a cause, a brand, an ideology, a belief… Whether the statement is fact-based or not is irrelevant. Challenging the statement means challenging the leader, the cause, the brand.
The important task for any kind of message, broadcast to an international audience from pro-Kremlin outlets, is to sow discord. Pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets expose the target audience with dozens of different statements, versions, explanations, “leaks”, “sensational revelations”, conspiracy theories. All this aims to diminish the trust in the efforts of the health care system, the authorities, national and international institutions. Sowing panic and distrust; creating an image of an imminent collapse; suggesting a breakdown of institutions. In the examples above, one outlet claims the information about the coronavirus is exaggerated; the other – that the apocalypse is here.”
The European Union Foreign Relations Service warned people to stop contributing to the spread of disinformation and called to respect health safety measures.
When pro-Kremlin disinformation outlets continue to create confusion and distrust, they are playing with peoples’ lives. Stop the viral spread of disinformation. Wash hands, stay home if unwell, respect quarantine restrictions. Don’t be deceived.