In the last month, the dissemination of infographics created by the Kremlin propaganda channel Sputnik has become more noticeable in Estonian-language social media.
Infographics is a popular format for transmitting information. Visual elements can provide extensive information that would otherwise require lengthy written transmissions.
Visual material can leave a lot of room for interpretation and facts can be presented with various tonality. This provides a good opportunity for the propaganda industry, which is also being increasingly exploited by the Estonian-language Sputnik. Often with infographic-equipped propaganda materials, the message coming out of the graphics does not match the story title.
When talking about infographics, for example, Sputnik Estonia has created visually attractive infographics with the headlines „Economic growth forecast for EU nations in 2019“ and „How pensioners live in the European Union“ as well as „European demographic perspectives 2050“. All three are based on EU material and are factually correct but the way in which the information is presented visually, in collaboration with the headlines of the articles such as „The sudden slowdown of economic growth in Estonia“ and „Estonian pensioners are the poorest in the European Union“ paint a negative picture of Estonia and its future prospects.
In the course of the upcoming elections, such materials, which allow the government to be shown in a negative light, have also been disseminated in the Estonian social media. Unfortunately, during sharing, references to the channel on the infographic disappear and people see this material as a neutral Estonian message. It all gives the Kremlin propaganda channel an audience they never would have dreamed of.
Sharing material provides Russia with an additional audience for propaganda materials, polarizing Estonian society, and spreading the Kremlin’s anti-Estonian narratives. There is one apparent common feature about Sputnik infographics – there are no positive examples of Estonia among them.
Photo: screenshot from Sputnik Eesti homepage