Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Kremlin Bots Show Precisely What Moscow Wants People to Think about Bashkortostan Events

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Feb. 9 – Messages distributed on social media by automatic bots often convey a more accurate image of just what those who control that form of messaging want people to take away. That is certainly the case with bot messages concerning the recent events in Bashkortostan, the Verstka portal says.

            To reach that conclusion, the portal examined more than 1000 bot messages on the sentencing of Bashkir activist Fail Alsynov, the supposed organizers of the mass demonstrations and the behavior of siloviki and other officials (verstka.media/chto-pisali-provlastnye-boty-pro-protest-v-bashkotostane).

            The bot messages were far shorter and sharper than other media. They accused Alsynov of being a secessionist and a terrorist even though he was charged and convicted of other Putin “crimes.” They said the West had organized the protests without offering any evidence. And they claimed that the siloviki and other officials had responded well to violence by protesters.

            Verstka said it had used the resources of the Botnadzor telegram channel which regularly collects and analyzes bot messaging about key events (t.me/botnadzor_org). Few journalists or analysts have yet turned to this source, but the Verstka findings suggest it should be one of the first places to look to see just what messages the Kremlin cares most about sending.

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