Russia diverts its disinformation to social media – Lithuanian official

  • 2023-03-02
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The suspension of Russian TV channels in Western countries has led the country to divert even more of its disinformation resources to social networking sites, Lithuanian Government Chancellor Giedre Balcytyte said on Thursday. 

"After Russia launched its brutal war against Ukraine, the regime-funded Russian TV channels in the West were suspended, leading the country to divert even more resources to social networks," Balcytyte said at a conference on Tackling Disinformation Online: Baltic Approach. 

"Russia understands that the only way it can win in Ukraine is by making democratic societies lose interest in the war which is costing Russia billions, so it will not run out of motivation to invest in disinformation," she said. 

The West is faced with a number of challenges in combatting disinformation: for example, the content of blocked Russian TV channels is easily accessible on social media platforms and can spread widely and unhindered through a plethora of fake accounts by using social media algorithms, her office said in a press release.

At the conference, Balcytyte shared Lithuania's recent experience, when the government's office last year initiated a dialogue with Meta, the company that runs Facebook and Instagram, on the filtering of content and the blocking of authors who express support for Ukraine and make public evidence of Russia's war and its crimes.  

According to the chancellor, moderation rules on social networking sites should not encourage self-censorship in discussions and give Russian propaganda more room to spread.

"Social networks have the potential to help build more democratic societies where everyone's voice can be heard," Balcytyte said.

However, to achieve this, to remain meaningful and more than just a place to share cute pictures of pets, these platforms have to find ways to allo more freedom for open, sometimes emotional, but fact-based discussion and to prevent destructive abuse," she said.

The international conference is dedicated to sharing Baltic experiences in the fight against disinformation and stepping up cross-sectoral cooperation in this area in the Central and Eastern European region.