Since Donald Trump’s election last November, stories about a Russian influence on western elections were brought by many stakeholders. The role of Russian media outlets such as Sputnik or Russia Today were also discussed. Let’s go back to the facts. Is this influence growing ? Who is spreading their news ? Did these media replace traditional media in some communities ? First answers with Brandwatch and Visibrain.
This study was first published in French by Nicolas Vanderbiest on his blog Reputatiolab. You can find a more complete version there. We apologise for any inaccuracy in this translation.
The first step of my investigation was to analyse the content published by Russia Today and Sputnik’s accounts. To be able to do so, I collected 2.5 month of online activity to see the content published and the users reached.
The color goes with the community they belong to
It’s mostly structured around UPR activists, who are very active online. We can see the traditional media are also part of this community, which is the sign that these activists also follow mainstream media, unlike the far-right communities.
To be able to analyse the most active people, I set up a Brandwatch panel with the 100 users who were the most active with RT/Sputnik (more than 265 mentions or Retweets of these two medias). This panel also analysed their global online activity, not only the one directly linked to the elections.
Then, using Visibrain, I also analysed the content published inside the 3 communities I identified.
The top tweets show negative comments against Mr Macron and Mr Mélenchon. However, it is funny to see that the first one is from a former Fillon supporter that had ties with the Fillon community during the primary but clearly changed side since then.