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Low degree of Russian-backed content in the Danish election

The Russian state-owned news media Sputnik and RT play an almost invisible role on social media during the Danish election campaign, AlterPublics data shows.

According to the Mueller report, Russian authorities attempted to derail the 2016 American presidential election by spreading propaganda through state-funded Russian media, false information, and conspiracy theories through a network of thousands of internet trolls on social media.

In contrast, the current Danish election campaign shows no significant signs of interference from Russian state-owned media – not during the campaign, nor in the years leading up to it. That is the conclusion drawn by researchers at the research project AlterPublics at Roskilde University.

The researchers have investigated posts with links to the two Russian news media RT and Sputnik that have been shared across eight social media platforms. Both media platforms target populations outside Russia and were, in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, banned by the EU.

They are viewed as alternative news media in the sense that they actively attempt to challenge the news stories of the established national media in the different countries as well as the established political systems.

“Both media are used to create divisions in Western democracies by covering topics such as immigration, vaccine rollouts, or data security that are already sources of disagreement or direct disunity,” says PhD fellow Frederik Henriksen, co-author to a recently published report on the dissemination of Russian-backed content in alternative news environments in EU countries.

Data from the first 10 days of the Danish election show a low degree of activity from the two Russian media in these environments where their audience is usually found.

“When we look at the alternative news environments, we do not see strong signs of interference in the Danish election through the Russian media or the Danish alternative news landscape. However, we cannot completely rule out that Russian authorities or organizations are attempting to use other strategies to influence the election on social media,” says Frederik Henriksen.


Rusland og sociale medier
The graph is based on Danish users' sharing of Russian news stories in open SoMe groups (Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, VKontakte, Gab and Reddit, Fourchan and YouTube) during the first 10 days of the 2022 election campaign.