Sara Monaci Simone Persico

Disinformation in times of war. The role of fringe platforms in the social media ecosystem

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The invasion of Ukraine has initiated a far-reaching conflict that marks a major turning point in the state of disinformation. The new element is the emergence of a media ecosystem in which the flows of disinformation are fed by the complex relationship between the fringe online environments such as Telegram, Rumble, 4Chan etc., and the mainstream social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Two factors may favour this process: the relative anonymity and free expression and, on the other hand, the European regulation on content moderation that may marginalise hyper-partisan positions to fringe environments. Thanks to a computational approach carried out by digital methods, the research identified bridges as strategic digital entities in the analysis of information flows toward Telegram and Rumble. In general, the central role of Telegram in the debate aligned to anti-Nato and anti-US positions emerges, at least in the Italian debate. The content analysis revealed the prevalence of hyper-partisan content compared to disinformation content, and the significant role of a number of political social media influencers able to direct their followers, thanks to bridges, towards hyper-partisan channels that repost Russian sources and interviews with relevant figures in Ukrainian politics


  • disinformation
  • fringe platforms
  • media ecosystem
  • political social media influencer
  • Ukraine war


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