How disinformation become a weapon in the virtual world during Russo-Ukraine War

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Taiwan

Publishing organisation: READr

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-03-24

Language: Chinese

Authors: Lee Yu Ju, Liu yi-xin, Syu Siang-Yun, Wu Man-Ru


READr is not just a data newsroom, it is also a digital innovation team. The development of information news in Taiwan media is still not perfect at present. Although the READr is only a small information newsroom, we still try hard to have an indicative impact on the development of data journalism in Taiwan.

We always hope to make breakthroughs in every topic.Without the framework of traditional thinking, the team can make the report more creative and also keep the news professional by presenting stories in a true and complete way.

Project description:

We cooperated with the Taiwan Fact Checking Center to analyze the disinformation circulating around the world through the fact-checking data from the International Fact-Checking Organization. We found that the themes of the disinformation before and after the war were different, reflecting the people’s demand for information, as well as spreading rumors strategy of the author. We also tracked the handling of these disinformation on social platforms, and conducted cross-border interviews with multinational fact-checking organizations to understand the front line of fighting rumors. This is the first report to analyze the content of disinformation about the Russian-Ukrainian war around the world.

Impact reached:

Information warfare is an important tactic in warfare. Influencing public opinion can boost morale and win international support. How should people view these fake news with obvious purposes? Or those seemingly harmless fake messages that just want to promote anti-war (such as Ukrainian Christians kneeling in the snow to pray that the war will not happen, soldiers saying goodbye to their families before going to war, children sitting next to the dead and crying, etc., the message claiming that the Russo-Ukrainian war created these heartbreaking images – the war is actually happening, but none of these images have anything to do with the Russo-Ukrainian war)? In a war, everyone wants to know the latest information, how to avoid becoming a victim of disinformation? We turned to fact-checking journalists from various countries to provide readers with answers to these questions.

Techniques/technologies used:

We used the R language to scrape and analyze all the data. In order to shorten the production time for the news, we used the online visualization service flourish to produce the small quiz for the beginning of the report.

Context about the project:

Doing research-type topics is especially difficult when things are still evolving. READr is able to do this because we have experience in disinformation analysis in the past, but each time the situation is different. And when people are desperate for information, how to divide false information and how to treat false information in war (it is considered a kind of tactics) is the information we feel needs to be conveyed to people in war.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

Information warfare is a predicament faced by many countries, and during the war, the destructive power of these fake information may be even more severe than we imagine. When analyzing fake information, we have developed a method to organize it, and even further focus on how fake information from other countries can affect the minds of Taiwanese people.This report can be a reference template for other journalists dealing with fake information.

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