Sputnik upgrades its arsenal of techniques, with which to legitimize press releases and increase visibility and its influence. The propaganda channel, which publishes material in both Estonian and Russian, is not very popular as an information portal, but shared articles in various social media channels have become a significant addition. It also gets them general attention.
The biggest goal seems to be trying to gain access to serious press publications using all means. Some of their suitable tools are attempts to influence the process through the Press Council, trying to receive equal treatment from the Estonian public sector with support of the Kremlin as well as the opening of the Sputnik Press Centre open for everyone in Tallinn.
Unfortunately, Sputnik’s attempts have been aided by unsuccessful choices made by the Estonian press publications, such as ETV+ channel’s program “Кто кого?”, where Sputnik’s Estonian manager was called to debate with the Russian editor-in-chief of Postimees. Similarly, a story published by Postimees: „Sputnik: Estonia lies about the number of individuals forcibly deported to Siberia“, unfortunately also contributed to the spread of Sputnik’s propaganda.
Increasing influence on Social media
Sputnik is trying to increase its audience through social media. Facebook reported the closure of several groups created and administered by Sputnik employees in January although others have replaced them. Large-scale distribution of Kremlin propaganda is through Russian speaking Estonian activist groups. The last couple of months have brought out several groups that are sharing Sputnik materials in Vkontaktes and Odnoklassniki environments.
A very negative development is happening in the Estonian language section of Facebook, where in addition to distributing propaganda there are more distributions found in Estonian language texts by Sputnik. Stories that are anti-Estonian and emotional have become popular distribution material for people that are dissatisfied with the Estonian government, and consequently gain extra attention as well as assist in spreading Kremlin propaganda against Estonia.
This distribution is also supported by Facebook’s own structure, which does not display the source and date of publications sufficiently when sharing text from the website. This, for example makes it possible to leave the impression in the groups’ newsletter that the media writes about negative things everyday, although in fact the stream is filled with channels with stories that we would not voluntarily visit and material that was published ten or more years ago. In the FB information box, they all look the same regardless of the source or the date of publication.
Use the tag!
Propastop created a tag to draw attention to such stories, which can be posted on Facebook and showing the propaganda text in the commentaries, warning other users who might not originally note the source and take the material as true.
If you see Sputnik articles posted on social media, use the tag and help keep the information space a cleaner place.