Ohat is the role of digital media in Russia’s war in Ukraine? Global online platforms play a role in disseminating information and promoting narratives about the conflict; How has this war changed our understanding of the role of digital media in political communication? We rely on the Internet’s role in propaganda and spreading false information.
It has been six months since the war began. The global media mainly focuses on the types of weapons used by Russian forces and the Ukrainian resistance army. There is a plethora of information and figures on the supply of high-tech weapons by the Western liberal world to Ukraine to fight Russia. But the very idea of war in this changing world is not constant. The new dynamics of war not only include conventional weapons, but the Internet is also one of the crucial tools of the weapons deployed by the two countries.
A week ago, a video was posted on Twitter by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, in which an S-400 missile defense system can be seen floating on a kiddie pool ball and aiming at the Kerch bridge in Crimea . Amazingly, the video garnered billions of views on social media platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. At first glance, it seems so natural. It only takes a second to apply a bit of common sense and decipher how a missile defense system weighing hundreds of tons can float on a balloon, but much of the public who watched this video believed it to be true. . This demonstrates the power that social media holds to influence a person’s opinions. Russian forces can be seen installing fake S-400 missile defense systems to deter Ukraine in several social media posts and interviews. Russia’s war against Ukraine has highlighted and shed new light on how social media can be used as a weapon in information warfare. This war is not limited only to a territorial combat, but it rests just as much on a battle of information, propaganda and rhetoric.
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Propaganda was implicitly incorporated into this war. Vladimir Putin’s February 24 speech, where he mentions neo-Nazi Ukraine and a threat to the Donbass region, was part of his wider propaganda to invade Ukraine.
Six months after the start of the war, he is going nowhere; the two countries are just trying to win over each other in terms of rhetoric. The globalized world has landed a smartphone on every hand with an internet connection and has dramatically changed the way we consume news about world events, from highly centralized state media to a much more diverse news source. Both countries exploit this aspect to advance their narratives. Information warfare acts as a double-edged sword; on the one hand, it helps to broadcast live field reports, which can help in humanitarian aid and assistance. On the other hand, it accentuates the development of divergent rhetoric. These tactics are used to boost the morale of soldiers and citizens simultaneously to hold on and not lose hope in the face of the demoralization of the armies of the enemy country as well.
Therefore, we must not be swayed by all the disinformation and propaganda on the Internet; always consult multiple news sources and follow stories from verified and reliable sources before forming our point of view.
Akshay Triloknath Maurya is a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Views are personal.