Numerous organizations are campaigning against the propaganda and fake news with which the Russian government and its supporters are spreading the internet.

One such civil law initiative is the Disinformation Situation Center.

It was launched by the Alfred Landecker Foundation and the tech initiative RESET after the Russian army invaded Ukraine.

Ten non-profit organizations from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Germany and other EU countries work together in the "Disinformation Situation Center".

40 tech experts, data analysts and translators have been systematically documenting Russia's information war for weeks.

They collect examples of the spread of misinformation, compare the Kremlin's propaganda across national borders and publish their analyses.

Felix Kartte, one of the experts at the "Disinformation Situation Center", criticizes in an interview with the FAZ that the social media platforms are doing too little against the propaganda: "Instead of using platform algorithms that act against war propaganda on Instagram and TikTok, the conspiracy narratives of the 'lateral thinking' scene will continue to be supplied with new content," says Kartte.

The target group of misinformation is growing daily.

Fake news and propaganda videos

Kartte points to a succinct example, a video shared on Twitter on March 19 with 2.5 million views.

The video shows men, women and children being beaten, abused and tortured by people identified as members of the Ukrainian military.

Twitter blocked the profile of the distributor, Juan Sinmiedo, but only after three days.

A little later, the video reappeared in Telegram groups.

After the protest of the Russian journalist Marina Ovsiannikova, who had demonstrated against the war on state television, a fake video appeared on Twitter that allegedly showed a Ukrainian reporter doing the same on Ukrainian television.

Then the made-up story of a Russian youth allegedly murdered by Ukrainians in Euskirchen made the rounds.

A post was circulated on TikTok and Telegram claiming that Ukrainian refugees had attacked elderly people in Lithuania.

Another fake video appeared on Telegram claiming that Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, had switched sides.

On the Russian platform VKontakte, the propaganda story is particularly popular, which states that a NATO puppet regime rules in Ukraine and that Russia has therefore long been fighting against NATO.

On Instagram, the Russian Ministry of Defense with around 557,000 followers and the state media "Zvezda" with 276,000 followers provide daily supplies of Putin- and "Z"-related hashtags.

The state profiles of the platforms are controlled by regular users, but also by paid trolls and so-called puppet accounts, i.e. fake or second accounts.

With its analysis, the "Disinformation Situation Center" shows that this is a digital operation of Russian warfare.

It aims to legitimize the war of aggression against Ukraine and to stir up hatred against the Ukrainian population.

The sign of the pro-war

The catchy 'Z' ('for victory') has established itself as a cheering sign for the war of aggression presented as 'denazification'.

Current analyzes by the "Disinformation Situation Center" are therefore also concerned with the "Z" campaign.

The "Z" is not only found on tanks and vehicles of the Russian army, it can be seen on billboards in cities and is even used as a coloring page in kindergartens.

The "Z" went viral on Instagram and TikTok in conjunction with hate posts and calls for violence against Ukrainians.

The Facebook group For Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, which has 35,000 members, shared 5,000 targeted posts containing pro-Russian propaganda and “Z”-related content in the past month.

Another well-known group with 9000 members is called "Friends of the Russian Nation".

According to research by the Disinformation Situation Center, the groups are based in Russia, Europe and Central Asia.

The majority of the posts distributed by these groups are in Russian.

Western news sources are mistranslated and quotes taken out of context to create appropriate pro-Kremlin narratives.

Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov, whose mercenary force is involved in the siege of the city of Mariupol, calls on his Telegram channel, which has grown from 60,000 to 1 since the start of the war,

4 million followers, continued violence against Ukraine.

At the same time, he presents himself as an alleged benefactor in the Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

Russian war propaganda runs on all platforms, it is all-encompassing and incites hatred in a variety of ways.

The "Disinformation Situation Center" demands that the Europeans understand the Russian disinformation more than before as a concrete danger for their own societies and - that platforms such as Facebook, Telegram, Twitter and YouTube do more against the warmongering.

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