Websites with fake information and so-called ‘dump tanks’ have always existed among the media, however the times of political and economic shock create especially favorable conditions for them. Ukraine is going through such times, therefore the necessity of filtering information has become even more relevant. Telekritika journalists prepared a survey of online resources which publish unreliable and unverified information, and explained why they should not be trusted using examples.
First and foremost, attention is drawn to publications that play on the readers’ emotions and lure their audience in with ungrounded and panic-spreading headings, e.g. In the next 48 hours Putin may invade Ukraine. If a respectable publication does report on what will happen in the future, it does it not in the form of a prophesy, but an analysis, under which conditions and circumstances it may happen.
Some ‘sensational’ news, e.g. The Beginning? China accumulates troops at the border with Russia, are taken by Antikor from another sensational website, Elise.com.ua. In the nearest future Yefremov will be behind bars or eliminated – source.However, the essence of the news, which is not presented in the heading in any way, lies in the fact that a criminal case was planned to be opened against Yefremov, which was done in the end.
Users may erroneously consider news aggregators and blogging platforms, such as Freejournal.biz, news media. This resource allows anyone to create an account and publish their own news. Some messages are quite popular among the readers, however, usually they are only rumors without citing the source and with made-up details.
Rumors and unreliable articles have also been seen on the popular resource Uainfo.org, which conducts blog surveys. The website recently spread the rumor that the US would give Ukraine ally status. In reality, the upper chamber of the US Parliament never made such a decision.
The Independent Ukrainian Informational People’s Agency (Независимое украинское информационное народное агентство)
The website titled, ‘The Independent Ukrainian Informational People’s Agency’ also spreads messages that are detrimental to the information space. Neither the titles (Moscow vagabonds are forced to migrate to Donbas) nor the texts inspire confidence: “Friends, there are two pieces of news. Very good and very bad. Let me start with the bad. We are on the brink of World War III… The second piece of news is very god. We can stop this insanity. Right now.” These “very bad and very good news” gathered over 19 thousand reposts on social media, and the ‘vagabond sensation’ was shared over a thousand times.
The People’s Observer (Народный обозреватель)
The worldview news portal, The People’s Observer, regularly reprints doubtful news such as: “The double of Poroshenko’s son is fighting on the front, and Olexiy himself is staying with his grandfather and going to concerts.” The author claims she had been able to speak with Olexiy Poroshenko, however she does not provide any evidence of this. It is difficult to trust such a message with obvious lack of sense in the title.
When choosing sources, one should be weary of information from separatist publications, which have de facto been created in order to spread misinformation and justify the actions of the terrorists. Roman Shutov made a detailed description of the separatist media structure. Here we will just mention some of them.
Russian Spring (Русская весна)
The publication Russian Spring only rarely published reliable information, and when it does, it has its own interpretation. A very popular photo published on the website portrayed a man in uniform holding a human arm between his teeth. The pro-Russian publication told the readers that a Ukrainian soldier was eating the arm of a Russian citizen. In reality, the photo had been taken at the shooting of the infamous movie, We Are from the Future.
Anna News agency videos can be found online quite frequently. The name of this resource is actually Abkhazian Network News Agency. The Agency was created in 2011 in the pro-Kremlin Republic of Abkhazia. The publication actively reported on the civil war in Syria from the viewpoint of the militants of Bashar Assad’s regime, and today openly declares support for the mercenaries in Donbas.
The resource created under the leadership of Dmitry Kiselev is a source of a number of fakes and manipulations. In particular, on June 30, the publication published a doctored photo of a document, according to which the NSDC Secretary (the publication called him the head of the SBU) Andriy Parubiy allegedly planned a provocation against Russia. The publication also actively uses manipulative headings in their news and justifies the actions of mercenaries and Russian troops in Donbas.
Every one of us receives proposals to sign petitions, such as Acknowledge Russia as the sponsor of terrorism, The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine: We are calling for you to approve a new Ukrainian Anthem, To all those who care! Signatures for a Ukrainian national referendum. Do not litter in the information space of your friends and families. Spreading such petitions only eats away at the mobilization potential of Internet users, and their effectiveness is practically nil. If you do want to sign a petition and convince your friends to sign it, first you should make sure that the demands in the petition are adequate, who the initiator is and whether it will really reach the addressee after the necessary number of signatures is reached. Do you know how many of the Avaaz petitions you have signed and shared reached the ones they were addressed to?