Despite the rise of TikTok and discussions about “freer” platforms such as MeWe or Telegram, Facebook remains the main platform for political debates in Romania. Facebook is also the platform for initiating radicalization. Radical channels on Facebook work to attract people with moderate opinions or those who are not politically socialized online, radicalize them, and then try to transfer them to other platforms.
In this – apparently favourable – environment, Diana Șoșoacă, far-right MP and outspoken Kremlin supporter, has experienced a spectacular drop in audience, from 22 million monthly views to mere thousands in just a few months.
In this report, we show how Diana Șoșoacă reacted and adjusted by diversifying her presence on Facebook and participating in TV and online shows. These adaptation tactics illustrate the resilience of the extremist ecosystem. Although in the public perception, the main representatives are often portrayed as solitary actors, they form networks and alliances that help them survive the potential blocking of accounts and platforms.
The fall: the algorithm strikes back?
At the end of 2021, Diana Șoșoacă was generally seen as a successful politician and skilled communicator. On television she attracted attention with her extremely aggressive style and inclination towards scandals. Her political Facebook account (‘Diana Șoșoacă official’) received almost 4 million engagements in December. The live and recorded videos, which are her primary form of online communication, attracted no less than 22 million views during the same month.
In January 2022, we could already see a significantly lower impact. Her political Facebook account attracted around 800,000 engagements and only 2.4 million views. This significant correction brought Diana’s influence back to the level of impact she had in the summer of 2021. Among the far right and pro-Kremlin actors monitored by Global Focus Center, she remained the third in importance after George Simion, president of the far-right Alliance for the Unity of Romanians/AUR party, and 4Media.Info, a site close to AUR.
However, the war in Ukraine seemed to bring a loss of momentum – and reach. At the end of February, she was officially penalised by Facebook , and, in April, her page fell to roughly 200,000 engagements and 600,000 video views. Her main channel was now just another voice in the pro-Russia and far-right zone.
Video views for Diana Șoșoacă’s and George Simion’s political Facebook accounts
While the January 2022 fall may have seemed natural, the one in April 2022 is surprising because other Romanian pro-Russian voices did not suffer such severe effects. There have been speculations that Facebook had applied a shadow banning decision to her; another possibility is that Facebook made some algorithm changes as a result of the war, and her much more aggressive language and more direct pro-Russia positioning automatically de-platformed her without the need for individualised decisions.
The rise: alternative Facebook channels
By October 2022, her page had reached a low of 7,000 engagements. However, our research shows that during this period Diana Șoșoacă worked successfully to diversify her channels and be present in channels owned by other actors in order to compensate and maintain an online presence until better times. The strategy seems to have some success; thus, in February 2023, against a more general background of extremist discourse revival, her political account once again obtained 200,000 reactions and 700,000 video views.
For this purpose, she supplemented communication efforts for her political page (Diana Iovanovici Șoșoacă- Oficial) by using first the Facebook page of her parliamentary office (Cabinet parlamentar – Diana Iovanovici-Șoșoacă) and then her older, personal account (Diana Iovanovici-Șoșoacă).
In April, there is a visible decrease in Diana Șoșoacă’s audience on her Facebook page; in the following month of May, activity resumes on Diana Șoșoacă’s parliamentary office account, which immediately rivals the main account. The number of posts is practically equal in May and much of the content is duplicated, which suggests a somewhat experimental approach.
Another channel used by Diana Șoșoacă is her older personal Facebook account, which had been somewhat abandoned for political activities in March 2021 and has been revived since July 2023. In October 2023 the personal account reaches 350,000 engagements (as compared to 950,000 in February 2022). In February 2023 the account gathers 1,500,000+ views (as compared with 3,000,000+ in February 2022).
Overall, despite the limited comebacks mentioned above, these channels fail to reach the level of audience Diana Șoșoacă had before. To explain why, it is useful to look at the number of followers. In the case of the parliamentary office page, it increases dramatically from 773 in April 2022 to nearly 30,000 in March 2023. However, this audience remains only a fraction of the audience of the main channel, which in March 2023, even though it has suffered a very small decline, remains at around 450,000 people .
A plethora of other channels
Diana Șoșoacă continues to have a strong media presence and has been invited as a guest on numerous television channels and online shows, such as: Realitatea TV , Nașul TV  , Zeus TV (Facebook) , Kanal D , Alba Karolina TV, TV6.MD, Etno TV, Cetățeanul.net . Her vocal opposition to COVID-19 restrictions and her controversial statements have garnered significant attention in Romania and abroad.
She also has (or is supported by) no less than 6 Telegram accounts, more than the typical far-right / pro-Kremlin politicians. Senator Diana lovanovici-Sosoaca (@DianaIovanoviciSosoaca, 11,065 members), Diana lovanovici-Sosoaca Oficial (@dianasosoaca, 2938 members), Sustinem Diana lovanovici Sosoaca (@dianasosoacasustinere, 1,439 members), Susținătorii Diana Iovanovici-Șoșoacă❤️🇹🇩 🔵🟡🔴🆘🆘🆘🔴🟡🔵  (@dianafangrup, 2,303 members), Diana lovanovici Sosoaca – SOS ROMANIA Oficial (@dianaiovanovicisosoacapresedinte, 538 members), Senatoarea Diana lovanovici Sosoaca (@SenatoareaDianalovanoviciSosoaca,41). The largest group, @DianaIovanoviciSosoaca, was formed in 2021 with the transparent purpose of counterbalancing Facebook “censorship”.
Thus, Diana Șoșoacă is present on a variety of platforms and contexts (Facebook, Telegram, traditional TV, online video, local media, etc). She maintains several channels per platform and appears to cultivate connections with other far-right voices.
Such measures to ensure resilience against banning (or simply against organic decline) are not uncommon among far-right actors. We have written about AUR’s ecosystem of Facebook and online publications as well as about the rapprochement between the actors around Realitatea TV and Luis Lazarus -Zeus TV.
All these bring resilience to the far-right and pro-Kremlin collective discourse. While de-platforming may still have a positive effect in preventing further radicalisation, it will likely influence only marginally those already radicalised who have access to a large variety of channels and platforms; some of which appear tailored specifically to go around restrictions.
Who is Diana Șoșoacă
Diana Iovanovici-Soșoaca is a lawyer and senator in the 2020-2024 legislature. She was spokesperson for the Orthodox Archdiocese of Tomis (which was a major voice speaking against COVID-19 vaccination). In 2020, she was elected as an MP for the AUR (Alliance for the Unity of Romanians) party. As an MP, Diana Sosoaca has made controversial statements on various topics, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the LGBTQ+ community and more recently, about the earthquake in Turkey. She suffered backlash several times for her statements, including fines and withdrawal from the parliamentary committees she was a member of. She is one of the very few MPs who visited the Russian Embassy to express support during the war in Ukraine.
She is known for her populist, anti-vaccination, anti-European and
In 2021 she was removed from the AUR party for indiscipline and is
currently a member of the S.O.S Romania party. Recently
she asked in Parliament to have the neighbourhood treaty with Ukraine annulled
in order for Romania to be able to obtain territory inhabited by Romanian
This report is part of an international research project financed by USAID, coordinated by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Beacon Project on countering Russian Disinformation and Propaganda. The opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not reflect those of IRI.
 Some of this attention was due to an incident where her husband actually bit a journalist.
 Officially Facebook claims it never does shadow banning as a policy, but decisons taken on individual posts may have similar effects (https://www.businessinsider.com/mark-zuckerberg-no-shadow-ban-facebook-but-mistakes-are-made-2022-8). Other sources believe that shadow banning does indeed occur at Facebook (https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/12/27/shadowban/).
 Similar figures could not be obtained for Diana’s personal Facebook account due to Facebook restrictions.