True confession: American NPO did not find fakes in the RT France news about “yellow vests”
The American non-governmental organization AVAAZ could not find fakes in the RT France materials devoted to the protests of the “yellow vests”, although earlier the French authorities stated without proof of the opposite. Moreover, AVAAZ analysts found that RT France was the absolute leader in the number of video views on protests in France on YouTube, twice surpassing in terms of Le Monde, L'Obs, FRANCE 24, Le Figaro, Le HuffPost combined. According to experts, even such a non-sympathetic structure of Russia as AVAAZ is forced to recognize the quality of the information provided by RT and the popularity of the channel among French viewers.
The international non-profit organization AVAAZ conducted a study on the effect of misinformation on the protests of "yellow vests" in France, which have been going on since last fall. Along the way, NPOs studied the possible influence of Russia on this movement, in particular from the RT channel.
However, no matter how hard the experts from AVAAZ tried, they couldn’t find any fake news from RT. Moreover, they found that the YouTube account of RT France was the most viewed channel in France on the subject of “yellow vests”, overtaking all the largest media of the Fifth Republic by this indicator.
“The American NGO has made a wonderful picture that our channel has views about“ yellow vests ”twice as large as those of the main French media TOGETHER TAKEN! That awkward moment when I love the American NGO affectionately, ”wrote Margarita Simonyan, the chief editor of RT, on Facebook.
AVAAZ was established in 2007 in the United States. She was founded by Ricken Patel, a UN consultant and several US foundations, including the Rockefeller and Bill Gates foundations, a former US diplomat and Democratic congressman, and now the executive director of the American programs of the Open Society Foundation * George Soros Tom, and former British diplomat . We note that earlier on the AVAAZ website there was a petition in support of the Magnitsky Act, and in 2018 the organization called for a boycott of the World Cup in Russia.
There are fakes, but not from RT
Representatives of AVAAZ concluded that "yellow vests" are buried in a stream of fakes. " So, according to them, the fake news related to the protests gathered only 105 million views in five months in the French segment of Facebook (from November 2018 to March 2019).
The creators of the document blamed Facebook and other platforms for not making enough effort to fight the fake news. According to the authors of the study, misinformation allegedly seriously threatens the stability of democracy in France, especially in the context of the election campaign in Europe (elections to the European Parliament will be held in May).
Although much of the current AVAAZ report is devoted to fake news, the authors did not find a single fake that could be attributed to RT. RT channel is never mentioned in the context of fake news in the report. There is no mention of RT in the annex to the document with links to the top 100 fake news on the topic of "yellow vests."
“Not all organizations are ready to play by the rules of Western propaganda until the end,” shared the head of the Institute of Newest States, political analyst Alexei Martynov with RT. - RT provides objective, but alternative information to mainstream media. Therefore, it is popular. "
Selection of viewers
At the same time, AVAAZ analysts were forced to recognize the growing popularity of the Russian TV channel. A separate chapter of the study entitled “The Effect of Russia: RT France dominates the debate on YouTube” was devoted to this topic. According to the authors, the YouTube account of RT France has become the most viewed channel in France on the subject of “yellow vests”.
The number of views of the corresponding videos on RT France (23.1 million) is more than twice the same performance of the five major mainstream media combined: Le Monde, L'Obs, FRANCE 24, Le Figaro, Le HuffPost (total views - 10 , 9 million).
The list of the first 500 videos that YouTube offers when searching for content on the theme of “yellow vests” is dominated by the themes of RT France. There are three times more such videos on YouTube than the second largest publisher, and more than the next seven channels in total.
It also turned out that RT France more closely followed the protests than its competitors. For example, the TV channel for the study period (November 2018 - March 2019) downloaded more than two times more videos on the topic than Le Monde, L'Obs, FRANCE 24, Le Figaro and Le HuffPost combined.
“The media that more effectively and efficiently provided content won,” the political analyst Dmitry Abzalov, president of the Center for Strategic Communications, explained in a conversation with RT.
In general, as noted in AVAAZ, the French prefer to watch online reports from the protests of "yellow vests" not in the mainstream media. After analyzing the 500 most relevant videos on this topic on YouTube, the authors of the study compiled a rating of channels for the total number of views, and in the first five there was not a single mainstream media.
But RT is confidently leading, on the YouTube-channel of which such videos have accumulated almost 13 million views.
The reasons for the popularity of the TV channel were commented for the Financial Times by Deputy Editor-in-Chief of RT Anna Belkina: “RT France only covered the events as they are, no more and no less. Obviously, this is what the audience wanted and what the mainstream media deprived it of. ”
In an article for Atlantico, the head of research at the Paris Institute for International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), François-Bernard Juig, drew attention to the fact that the AVAAZ report strangely mixed fake news and RT popularity.
“The study mixes up one thing in two things: the fact that there was false news in favor of the“ yellow vests ”(there were also a lot of fakes against the“ yellow vests ”), and the fact that the Russia Today video was very popular. The study said that they were viewed much more than, for example, the video Le Monde or L'Obs. This can be explained by the fact that RT is television, in contrast to the two newspapers mentioned, writes Yuig. “What is really remarkable is that RT scored more hits than BFM.”
He also noted that RT covered the protests in more detail, which is why the materials of this media are so popular among the activists of the "yellow vests".
“From the point of view of the support of“ yellow vests ”by the mass media, we must admit that, with the exception of RT, there is not much to choose from. This explains their great success, especially because, unlike BFM, they spent many hours of live broadcasts without editing. This was particularly appreciated by the "yellow vests", which could follow the events live. Which has nothing to do with spreading false news, ”says Yuig.
On the beaten track
However, in AVAAZ make a different conclusion. His analysts claim that, on YouTube, the “informational diet” basically consists not of “quality journalism from France”, but of “Russian state-owned media and many secondary actors.”
Commenting on the popularity of RT, AVAAZ analysts did not fail to note that their analysis allegedly shed light on the active efforts of the Russian state-owned media, RT France, to incite protest sentiments.
The authors of the report are even more annoyed by the fact that RT enjoys the confidence of the “yellow vests” themselves:
"RT penetrated this movement so deeply that once protesters even started chanting" Thank you, RT! Thank you, RT! ”.
In December 2018, the video agency AP distributed footage of activists of the yellow vests watching a live broadcast of Emmanuel Macron's appeal to the nation on RT France.
According to the British newspaper Financial Times, the AVAAZ report is likely to “cause another wave of concern about Russian influence.”
According to experts, the popularity among the protesters is not at all evidence of their direct support, much less “incitement” of protests.
The AVAAZ report was published against the background of regular attacks on RT by the French authorities. According to the publication Le Point, French President Emmanuel Macron accused RT television channel and Sputnik agency of supporting the "yellow vests" - primarily with the help of social networks.
Also, the official representative of the French government, Benjamin Grieve, repeatedly and unprovenly accused RT of “spreading” the fake news, and on this basis closed access to the Elysee Palace to journalists.
“What does incitement mean?” - Alexey Martynov was surprised. “People just want to see coverage of protests that have deep social roots, and the authorities want these protests to stop, but they cannot do anything.” Therefore, they are ready to blame anyone, but not themselves. "
* The Open Society Foundation (Open Society Foundation) is an organization whose activities are considered undesirable in the territory of the Russian Federation by decision of the General Prosecutor's Office dated 11/26/2015.