Staunton, May 28 – During the first half of March, just after Vladimir Putin launched his expanded invasion of Ukraine, Russian social media featured 3.16 million posts. A month later, that number had fallen by 22 percent to 2.46 million; and in the first half of May, this figure declined to 1.52 million, less than half the one two months earlier.
A similar decline occurred in Russian mass media, the Mediology monitoring system reports. It says there were 305,000 articles about the war there during the first half of March, but only 147,000 such articles during the first half of May (thinktanks.by/publication/2022/05/28/v-rossiyskih-smi-voennye-deystviya-v-ukraine-upominayutsya-vse-rezhe.html).
Three aspects of this decline are intriguing. First, even with an event like the war in Ukraine, the media and social networks respond with a strong preference for novelty. When something new occurs, they cover it; when it has been going on for a longer period, they turn away regardless of how important it may
Second, the fall off in mass media coverage likely reflects both that and official policies designed to minimize public attention to a conflict that has not gone the way Vladimir Putin predicted, but that can’t by itself explain the decline in the numbers of posts in social media over the same period.
And third, the fact that the decline in attention to the war in social media has tracked so closely with the official mass media suggests that Russians who use social media are affected not only by the same issue fatigue as those who rely on official media but also that declining public media coverage is playing a role as well.