THE SOURCE STUDY ASPECT OF INFORMATION WARFARE: ON THE HISTORY OF GEORGIA AND UKRAINE AS SEEN THROUGH SOCIAL NETWORKS
The author states that the emergency of Internet communications, especially social networks, as the primary platform of discussions on politics in history represents a boon to various actors wishing to influence public perception of history in great numbers, and at the same time posits a challenge to histo riography and especially source studies. Noting the achievements of previous works by historians dealing with social networks as part of the primary sourc es base, the author suggests that instead of working out the peculiarities of technical classification of sources from social network, it is more practical to classify them on whether they represent a “myth”, or a “remnant” of a histor ical fact or process, or whether such sources may represent both. The sourc es in question are represented by posts from various Internet platforms: the “longreads” from LiveJournal, Facebook, and various internet media, and the short reply-type messages from Twitter. Most of them deal with anti-Georgian and anti-Ukrainian propaganda on history and politics and various methods to spread said propaganda through Russophone and Anglosphone userbases of social networks via various avenues: sharing articles, simulating an atmo sphere of discussion to establish “common acceptance” of points, flooding the replies to opponents’ posts with detractors, inflammatory posts, automat ed user posts to mass-spread specific identical messages. Confirmation bias plays a great role in the dessimination of propaganda on history, as people with a negative view of the “mainstream” U.S. political thought and historical narratives find themselves affiliated with anti-U.S. messaging from Moscow influencers, even if it concerns completely foreign countries like Ukraine and Georgia, rather than the specific part of the American social-political life the Moscow-friendly people have a problem with. Moreover, the aim of the pro pagandists may not be so much to force social network uses to completely change their minds about history, as to sow doubt and promote indecision and uncertainty about “their own” narratives on history and poilitics. The ease and low costs of such low effort influencing on perception of history represent a danger to democratic societies and require governmental and non-govern mental answers that will combat malicious propaganda across “non-main stream platforms” not only in quality, but also in scale.
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