After the start of Russia's military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, "the disinformation space" on social networks in Croatia is increasingly being populated by pro-Kremlin propaganda, the results of a research project showed on Friday.
“Certain websites and parts of the disinformation space are like a jukebox – topics change, but discourse is always the same. Those who have until now declared the COVID-19 pandemic a ‘plandemic’, or a big fraud, are now taking the Kremlin side in the Ukrainian war,” said Professor Marijana Grbesa of the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science and one of the authors of the Pro-Fact project.
“In the disinformation system, pro-Putin views were noticed in the last phase of the research,” Grbesa said, emphasising the importance of the media in spreading and intensifying the influence and reach of disinformation from social networks.
On the one hand, the mainstream media are targeted by disinformers on the pretext of “spreading totalitarian propaganda”, while on the other hand, they are part of the problem because they themselves help spread disinformation with their sensationalist headlines and clickbait.
“The research shows that disinformation gains true strength only after it is published in the mainstream media. They should put the brakes on sensationalism,” Grbesa said.
The research was part of the Pro-Fact multi-disciplinary project aimed at exposing COVID-19 disinformation narratives in Croatia by checking the accuracy of facts. The project is being carried out by the GONG NGO, the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, the University of Dubrovnik, the Zagreb Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, and the Faktograf fact-checking website in cooperation with the Croatian Journalists Association and Croatian Journalists’ Union.