The use of technology to propagate misinformation through fake news is more evident in the modern digital culture than ever before. The Kremlin’s lame justification for the Russian invasion of Ukraine is profoundly characterised by fake news aired through digital forums such as social media and state-controlled mainstream media outlets. Despite the efforts by technology giants such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter to block social media access in Russia as a way of curbing the spread of fake news, Vladimir Putin’s government is relentlessly working to justify its pursuit of “National Security” through propaganda.
How Russia is Using Fake News as a Propaganda Tool
Close allies and confidants of Vladimir Putin opine that the Kremlin never expected Ukraine to put up and sustain such bold resistance to its ‘military operation’. Russia’s perceived military superiority and underestimation of Volodymyr Zelensky’s willpower is the main reason for several drawbacks facing Russia a few weeks after it invaded Ukraine. Russia has responded to the operational drawbacks of its original plan by publishing false information on issues such as targeting military bases only despite the continued shelling of residential areas. Also, Russia’s defence ministry has mastered the art of fake news when reporting the number of Russian soldiers killed in the battle and trading blames on the responsibility for actions such as bombing schools and hospitals, which could be potentially characterised as a war crime.
Propaganda, becoming a tool and part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is fueled by sharing false videos and images to foster false narratives and conceal the truth from the international community. Taking many forms, propagandists can take videos out of context while claiming to be something else. For instance, a state-controlled media station in Russia posted a video on Facebook, purporting to be the military action in Ukraine, but it was later known as footage originating from the Syrian conflict in 2020. The spread of fake news is an extent to portray the Russian military as being more powerful than they actually are. An illusion can be created that Ukraine is not fighting back. There is a need to prepare for such disinformation.
Detecting Fake News in the Digital Era
Fake news can create a false perception and undesirable responses from the target consumers when they lack the proper skills to differentiate between facts and propaganda. This does not only apply in political events such as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine but also in our social and workplace settings, especially in the modern age of social media. The easiest way to spot propaganda is by checking the media outlet and the web domain on which it is aired. Internationally recognised media outlets and verified social media accounts are bound by specific ethical and professional principles that restrict airing non-factual information to consumers. Moreover, a visual assessment of the news content can help one to determine whether it is real or fake by comparing it with related information from credible sources.