Russian propaganda’s techniques: flooding the mind with hyperboles

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Anyone who studies disinformation could ask why the information space contains so many hyperboles. For example, when you read about the pandemic, you cannot avoid extravagant narratives of Satan pulling the strings, or wild scenarios in which Western leaders emerge as dictators. Probably, part of the explanation is that, from the viewpoint of the receiver, the drama is seductive; people click on hyperbolic and emotional content.

A recent Oxford University study also sheds light on those that spread disinformation. It found that RT TV channel, a super spreader, uses disinformation to create (political) chaos. If chaos is the goal, the means is a massive number of disinformation narratives, like an incoming tsunami. In the search of clicks, unrestricted extravagancy is required. Looking at the disinformation trends this week, we see plenty of bizarre tsunamis.

As could be expected, we spotted a lot of disinformation targeting Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, the protests ignited by his arrest, and the Moscow visit of the EU High Representative, Josep Borrell. As we already reported, a stream of interconnected disinformation narratives already sprang up during Borrell’s joint press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, produced by the pro-Kremlin disinformation ecosystem and flowing seamlessly after the conference had ended.

During the EU High Representative’s visit, Russia also expelled three European diplomats who were monitoring the protests. Actually, they were only present at the spot, which is compatible with their status as foreign diplomats. Even the videos shared by Russian state media showed the diplomats were merely outdoors at the time of the demonstrations. Besides, even under Russian constitutional law, those protests were legal. However, pro-Kremlin outlets claimed that Russia was “forced” to expel EU diplomats who participated in illegal protests or that diplomats from the EU took part in unsanctioned rallies.

A number of narratives framed the EU’s behavior as aggressive towards Russia, the hero and victim of a great many false stories. One narrative claimed that Borrell’s mission was to publicly flog Russia. Another one referred to the EU’s alleged dream of invading Russia. According to this narrative, the West is afraid to start a war with Russia, so it uses a “nosy fifth column” to destabilize the country.


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