Kremlin owns up to new media empire
I’ve been a keen observer of ways in which governments all over the world are trying to fill the Internet with their own propaganda. I even coined a term to describe this phenomenon- “the spinternet” – and it seems to be gaining currency online. Much of this spinning is done by paid or voluntary ...
I’ve been a keen observer of ways in which governments all over the world are trying to fill the Internet with their own propaganda. I even coined a term to describe this phenomenon- “the spinternet” – and it seems to be gaining currency online. Much of this spinning is done by paid or voluntary Internet commentators (or government-funded start-ups) who make anonymous comments on blogs and forums, trying to steer sensitive online discussions in directions that would favor the authorities. I know that these accounts sometime sound a bit paranoid – after all, I still can’t wrap my ahead about the fact that China may have as many as 280,000 such commentators – but occasionally I come across evidence that makes me think that we might actually be underestimating the threat.
For example, today Alexander Zharov, deputy minister of communications in the Russian government, said (article in Rusian) that the government is going to double its support to “socially important” web-sites, bringing it to almost $35 million a year (this roughly translates into a dollar per every Internet user in Russia). Along with this announcement came the list of 81 “socially important” Web-sites and other electronic projects that the Kremlin funded last year (in Russian). Below are several highlights of Russia’ new media propaganda empire (the original document doesn’t disclose the amount of funding per project) While many projects on the original list sound rather innocent, there are also a few, which, undoubtedly, have a broader political role to play.
- “Agency of Social Information/asi.org.ru” – a news site covering activities of Kremlin-friendly NGOs and predominantly fake civil society organizations
- Content-filtering.ru – this web-site aims to “stimulate public discussion about ways to fight “aggressive information” on the Internet”
- Sedmitza.ru – religious news from the Orthodox church
- Russedina.ru – a site aimed at uniting/helping Russian minorities abroad
- Iremember.ru – a site documenting memories of World War II veterans (which may come in handy as Russians are debating a law which would make denial of the victory in WWII a criminal offense)
- cis-vmeste.ru (which means “CIS together” in Russian) – one of the objectives of the site is to “counter anti-Russian propaganda in post-Soviet and foreign media”)
- infoshos.ru – a site covering the news /developments in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization
- ant-arctica.ru – “an Internet portal covering social, scientific, historical and agricultural developments in the Arctic and the Antarctic” (that’s what I call strategic thinking in cyberspace, even though the site seems to be under construction)
Mind you, this is only tip of the iceberg, to borrow an Arctic-related metaphor – there are probably hundreds of other sites which are funded not by the Ministry of Communications but by the Kremlin itself.
Photo by Panoramas/Kremlin
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