Cardiff University researchers found the existence of a major influence operation executed through comments on Western media content, which spreads disinformation and pro-Russian views.
The university’s Crime and Security Research Institute found comments fired at 32 media agencies from 16 countries, which involved The Daily Mail, Daily Express and The Times, America’s Fox News, Washington Post, Le Figaro in France, Der Spiegel, and Die Welt in Germany, and Italy’s La Stampa.
The research done by the Open Source Communications Analytics Research (OSCAR) program said that the misleading comments found were used by Russian-language media agencies as the basis of “politically controversial” narratives.
The troll operations were discussed in the research due to tension between Ukraine and Russia, but the researchers claimed that the scheme has been ongoing since 2018.
Research Institute Director Professor Martin Innes said that the calculated and well-coordinated propaganda campaign presents a risk of losing its promoted point of view as established popular opinion.
The research also expressed concern on how Western media are vulnerable to this kind of manipulation as no security measures are in place to detect this kind of activity, enabling trolls to easily switch personas and identities.
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