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.
Ever since the beginning of the war, the far right has had to appease two constituencies. The more traditional far right had been historically opposed to Russia’s foreign policy: anti-communism and by extension opposition to Russia is the founding myth of the Romanian far-right. This goes way back to Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, leader of the interwar fascist movement The Iron Guard and Ion Antonescu, interwar prime-minister allied with Hitler. The far-right will often justify their deeds (including hate and war crimes) by the need to resist Soviet / Russian influence. Also, the vast majority of Romanians do not sympathise with Russia so every effort to recruit followers from the mainstream needs to account for that.
9 January 2023
This report will be looking at recent evolutions in the share of voice of the main pro-Russian actors on Facebook. It is important to note that the main voices who promote toxic narratives about the war in Ukraine are, by and large, the same voices who promote far-right narratives and the same people who have promoted anti-vaccination narratives. All these narratives generally align with the Russian interests in Romania. The purpose of Russian information operations is not necessarily to sway the Romanian population to regard the Kremlin’s actions favourably, but rather to sow discord within Romanian society and between Romania and its allies. As such, it is relevant to also look at their relative influence more broadly, as we do in this report.
Rezumat pentru România
Propaganda pro-Kremlin pe Facebook se manifestă și prin comentarii identice puse de un număr limitat de utilizatori („troli”). O primă cercetare a Political Capital (Ungaria) și a partenerilor săi a dezvăluit existența unor „rețele de troli online potențial coordonate” în țările V4 imediat după începerea invaziei.