馃У1/ I analysed 250000 tweets involving 92000 accounts tweeting the trending keyword 'Tochka-U'. I wanted to explore a key aspect of the contested narrative around the Kramatorsk station attack- & see the successful diffusion of the Russian narrative #UkraineRussiaWar #Ukraine

Apr 10, 2022 路 2:47 PM UTC 路 Twitter Web App

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2/ Firstly context. Tochka-U is the name of the ballistic missile that landed on Kramatorsk station, killing 52 Ukrainians. They are used by both Russian and Ukrainian forces. Both sides accused each other of firing the missile. However, Russian propaganda & disinfo is fairly
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3/ clear as it follows a couple of testable narratives. Firstly, official channels have stated that Russia no longer uses Toshka-U missiles. Another popular narrative is that the missile picture at Kramatorsk had a Ukrainian-only serial number & thus must have come from Ukraine.
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4/ People even circulated a spreadsheet that is somehow meant to confirm this fact. However, according to a missile expert, all missiles with this serial number were manufactured in the former soviet union in the same plant. There also plenty of evidence that Russia use Tochka-Us
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5/ With this in mind, the position around the Tochka-U represents a key point of partisan disagreement based on people who tend to believe or support the misleading Russian explanation, or the more plausible Ukrainian version. What follows, is an analysis of who is saying
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6/ what. Firstly, if we colour the +200k tweets by language, we see that the dominant languages discussing Tochka-U are English, Spanish, Italian and French. We will come back this, but it highlights that the discussion about the Tochka-U is fairly international
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7/ Now let's look at the most 'influential' content. Below is the same network graph, but I have coloured the most retweeted tweets. Most in the righthand English section represent people who support the plausible version of events - a Russian missile hitting the station
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8/ As you can see, tweets by @ChristopherJM @christogrozev and @DDaltonBennett feature highly. However, on the Spanish cluster, the most influential tweets are those supporting the Russian narrative.Of course Russia Today is in the mix,as well as some other pro-Russian accounts
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9/ Recolouring now for clarity, in terms of most retweeted. We can see accounts like @IrinaMar and @RealPepeEscobar and @al_bonnel promoting the narrative (in French and Spanish) that Ukrainians killed civilians with the Tochka-U, also in a separate incident in Donetsk in March
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10/ Again some of these accounts are known, like photojournalist Anne-Laure Bonnel, while others like IrinaMar just look like anonymous propaganda accounts. The French and Italian groupings are also dominated by pro-Russian propaganda. See French below
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11/The Italian grouping is similar, a lot of the most influential are promoting the Russian line (or casting doubt on Ukrainian side), including former Italian MEP @ladyonorato who was on of those who voted against condemning the invasion of Ukraine.
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12/ What I find most interesting though is the central area of the graph, the intersection. Here are many of the English language boosters of Russian disinformation and/or propaganda, although not exclusively. A lot of official Russian accounts lie here, such as @mod_russia. This
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13/ makes sense, as all sources, regardless of stance, would report official Russian narrative - hence it's central position in the network. Anyway, some usual suspects here, including @realscottritter @amb_ulyanov and some others I've highlighted
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14/ Of the top ten most 'influential' accounts six are pro-Russian, including accounts tweeting in English, Spanish and French. So what this represents really is how 'successful' the Russian narrative has been on this issue, at least on Twitter, and at least among
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14/ those discussing Tochka-U in Spanish, Italian, French and English. The Russian narrative is popular and diffuse, among many real accounts, and many anonymous and who-the-hell-knows who accounts. So while some have said Russian propaganda or disinfo was off to a
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15/ rocky and slow start, it is clear being disseminated effectively on Twitter, through both official Russian media, embassies, and other pro-Russian journalists and politicians. Of course as the war goes on Russian propaganda this will probably become effective as people
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16/ develop more ambiguous positions to the conflict, partly as a result of propaganda, but partly due to the grim reality of war. Hope you enjoyed, happy to answer any questions #UkraineRussiaWar
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