Will Ukrainians become invulnerable to Russian fakes?

Even the most successful debunkings prepared by fact-checkers usually reach less audience, than the lie. Nevertheless, this is offset by their awareness of how complex information threats are.

The study ‘Fake news and disinformation discourse in the Ukrainian media space’ prepared by NGO “CAT-UA: Communication Analysis Team – Ukraine” for the Netzwerk für Osteuropa-Berichterstattung e.V. (n-ost)

  • Since the beginning of the war, Ukraine’s media system has focused primarily on countering Russian disinformation, and also, domestic disinformation.
  • The absolute majority of internal Ukrainian fake news at this time is also related to the war.
  • The threat of Russian disinformation was most pronounced at the beginning of the war, and then gradually disappeared from the agenda.
General attention to the issue of fake news, the proportion of posts in each month since February 24, of the total number of publications in the sample of media publications.
  • Government speakers have done the most to promote this discourse.
Authors of judgments about fake news, the proportion of general number in the sample of media publications
  • Advice on countering fake news and disinformation was often quite general, with government agencies urging to use only official sources.
  • Overall, traditional media communication regarding fake news was much more controlled by the state than in social media.
  • As for social media, refutations of internal Ukrainian fake news and the operation of pro-Russian propagandists were more pronounced.
Most frequently disproved judgments, the proportion of general number in the sample of social media posts
  • Ukrainians consider fake news spreading to the occupied areas to be the most dangerous fake news.
  • Warnings about fake news focused the largest attention to the expected ‘deep fake’ with Zelensky’s alleged video statement about surrender.
  • In addition to that, there were several ‘top fake news’ of the Russian propaganda, which were refuted by everyone.
  • Along with traditional media, Facebook is an important platform for spreading refutations. Other social media are lagging behind.
  • Ukraine has got a diversified network of disinformation fighters.
  • Uncoordinated work of fact-checkers has both negative and positive consequences.
  • Even in the case of the most successful rebuttals, they are usually shared less broadly than the lies, and they not always reach the intended audience of fake news.
  • However, this is compensated by other advantages, and foremost, by an understanding of how complex information threats are.