An EU report claims Kremlin-backed accounts have grown in influence this year, due to the ‘dismantling’ of certain safety standards on X.
A new study claims social media sites have been used by Russia to launch a “large-scale disinformation campaign” against the EU and its allies during the invasion in Ukraine.
This study also claims that the reach and influence of Kremlin-backed accounts have grown in the first half of 2023, due to the “dismantling of Twitter’s safety standards”. Twitter – now known as X – has undergone significant changes since Elon Musk took over the platform last year.
The report claims that the reach of pro-Kremlin accounts saw their average engagement grow by 22pc across online platforms between January and May this year. But the study claims this growth was “largely driven by Twitter”.
The study claims these pro-Kremlin accounts saw engagement grow by 36pc after Musk lifted mitigation measures on these accounts, when he argued that “all news is to some degree propaganda”.
The report noted that pro-Kremlin accounts reached their largest audiences on platforms owned by Meta – the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
“However, their audiences only grew marginally on Facebook and Instagram compared to other platforms,” the report said. “The subscriber numbers of pro-Kremlin channels more than tripled on Telegram since the start of the war, more than doubled on TikTok and rose by almost 90pc on YouTube.”
The report claims these Russian accounts cause severe risks to public safety, fundamental rights and civic discourse, having an aggregate audience of 165m and generating at least 16bn views. But the report also claimed that online platforms introduced “very few changes” to their terms and conditions to address these accounts.
“The exceptions were restrictive policies targeting Russian state media accounts, and some narrow content policies regarding the denial of war crimes, or the publication of personal information about prisoners of war,” the report said. “Pre-existing policies covering incitement to violence and hate speech were applied inconsistently across platforms, languages and time periods.”
Earlier this year, X was fined $350,000 for a delay in giving investigators access to Donald Trump’s account data, according to unsealed court files.