How Unmoderated Platforms Became the Frontline for Russian Propaganda
In an essay for Lawfare Blog, Samantha Bradshaw, Renee DiResta and Christopher Giles look at how state war propaganda in Russia is increasingly prevalent on platforms that offer minimal-moderation virality as their value proposition.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the evolving complexities of platform governance challenges in an increasingly decentralized information environment. Russia’s war in Ukraine has killed, injured, and displaced thousands of civilians. Russia, leading up to and throughout the conflict, brought the full scope of its propaganda apparatus to bear, leveraging overt and covert capabilities on both broadcast and social media to justify the invasion, downplay the death and destruction of families and homes, and deny human rights abuses. Social media companies have been called to make difficult, real-time decisions about content moderation with life-or-death stakes. However, even as the Western conversation focuses on Facebook, Twitter, and Alphabet’s successes and failures, state war propaganda is increasingly prevalent on platforms that offer minimal-moderation virality as their value proposition.