Mapping Post-truth spaces concerning the war in Ukraine
Sam Bouman, Jinru Dong, Malin Holm, Szilvi Német, Xinwen Xu, Desislava Slavova, Jennie Williams, Maria Plichta, Aistė Meidutė, Kefeng Cao, Richard Rogers, Maria Lompe, Emillie de Keulenaar, Kamila Koronska
2. Research Questions
RQ 1: How has the attention to the war in Ukraine evolved, according to TikTok and Facebook interactions on war-related content, both per country and overall?
RQ 2: how do we characterize problematic information spaces on TikTok and Facebook concerning the war in Ukraine in the countries or languages in question?
subq1: Of that attention, how much of it could be characterized as (hyper)partisan?
subq2: Is the share of (hyper)partisan attention increasing or decreasing compared to the more widespread attention?
subq3: are there specific problematic clusters per country?
subq4: Is there a pattern across the countries, e.g., in the presence of a problematic space, size, or prominence?
3. Methodology and initial datasets
In curating the keywords for The Netherlands, both generic and partisan, it was noted that Facebook posts often used more partisan terminology than generic terminology. The mainstream media dominated most of the discourse on Facebook about the war. Despite the fact that news organizations are expected to be impartial in their reporting, Dutch news organizations were often perceived as anything but neutral. Reports and posts on Facebook were primarily portrayed in favor of the Ukrainian side in the war. Partisan keywords such as ‘illegale Russische oorlog’ (illegal Russian war), ‘Russische aanval’ (Russian attack), or ‘Russische invasie’ (Russian invasion) were often seen together with more neutral keywords, for example, ‘kerncentrale’ (nuclear plant) or simply city names, that were used to describe either a specific event or location. All these words were documented into the Master Corpus Output.
In addition to the decline in attention to war-related content in the stream graph, the line charts below indicate how much of this attention was partisan or generic in nature. A partisan content type is either pro-Russian or pro-Ukrainian, and a generic content type is neutral in nature. Overall, the content engaged is primarily generic. However, when comparing all the countries together, it becomes clear that some countries are visibly more partisan than others. The line graph of The Netherlands deviates the most from the other countries.
Looking through the content and keywords on Facebook led us to assume that The Netherlands was partisan in its interaction with the war in Ukraine. However, looking at the graph, it can be concluded that The Netherlands is not only partisan but hyper-partisan in its interaction with war-related content on Facebook, seeing as the vast majority of the line graph demonstrates interaction with partisan content (blue) over neutral content (gray). While it remains a speculative observation of current events between Russia and The Netherlands, the hyper-partisan position of The Netherlands could be attributed to an ongoing conflict between the Russian state and Dutch officials related to the downing of a Dutch airplane in Ukrainian airspace, MH17, on the 17th
of July 2014. The Joint Investigation Team, composed of The Netherlands, Australia, Malaysia, Belgium, and Ukraine, has concluded after extensive research that the BUK missile responsible for downing the plane was the property of the Russian army, therefore, leading The Netherlands to hold Russia accountable for the loss of 298 lives (Ministerie van Algemene Zaken, 2020). Until this day, Russia rejects any responsibility for the downing of flight MH17. It puts complete responsibility on Ukraine, stating that “that country should have closed off its airspace” while accusing The Netherlands of leading a sham investigation (Dennekamp, 2021).
Another line graph was used in order to demonstrate the share of pro-Ukrainian (green) versus pro-Russian (blue) content in the recorded interactions on Facebook over time. While The Netherlands has been previously established as hyper-partisan, the line graph demonstrates that most of this interaction takes place with pro-Ukrainian as opposed to pro-Russian content, which is understandable following the ongoing investigation of Russia’s involvement in the plane crash by The Netherlands and Ukraine.
In the Netherlands, problematic sources were in the minority. They consisted of a few anti-governmental Facebook pages, a cluster of linked Dutch military websites, and a small cluster of the extreme right, pro-Russian political party websites called ‘Forum Voor Democratie.’ FVD leader Thierry Baudet has been adamant in showing his support for the Russian side in the war. He states that Putin has “opened up a front against the American Imperium of globalists, who have had a strategic post in Kyiv at least since 2014.” He believes Russia is a contender against the globalist world order (Forum voor Democratie, 2022). Apart from that, mainstream media, civil organizations, and institutional websites dominated the discourse online for The Netherlands, which shows it is following a similar pattern as Sweden.
References The Netherlands (APA)
Dennekamp, G. (2021, September 24). Rusland: niet verantwoordelijk voor neerhalen MH17. NOS.nl. https://nos.nl/nieuwsuur/artikel/2399129-rusland-niet-verantwoordelijk-voor-neerhalen-mh17
Forum voor Democratie. (2022, October 6). Rusland als serieuze uitdager van de globalistische wereldorde
. Forum Voor Democratie. https://fvd.nl/nieuws/rusland-als-serieuze-uitdager-van-de-globalistische-wereldorde
Ministerie van Algemene Zaken. (2020, March 9). Nederland stelt Rusland aansprakelijk
. Neerhalen Vlucht MH17 | Rijksoverheid.nl. https://www.rijksoverheid.nl/onderwerpen/neerhalen-vlucht-mh17/rechtspraak-en-waarheid/nederland-stelt-rusland-aansprakelijk
Presentation slides or poster (link)
Data sets (links)