November 29, 2022

Anna Kluyeva on International Social Media from a Russian Perspective

By: Rebecca Rhodes, Michael Eiden and Christina Roach

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In class on Tuesday, Emeritus SOJC Professor Anna Kluyeva engaged us on the topic of international social media from a Russian perspective. With experience living and working in Russia, she shed light on the many challenges Russian citizens face when using social media. Thanks to her unique insight, we were able to critically compare and contrast Russia’s use of media with that of the US and thoughtfully discuss the topics of ethics, censorship and self expression.

 

“Officially, Internet in Russia is not censored but there are many laws that give wiggle room for the government to ban just about any content.” – Anna Kluyeva

 

Anna first led our discussion by describing social media use in Russia. As the largest country in Europe, Russia’s Internet penetration is very high, but surprisingly, the country’s presence on Facebook and Twitter is relatively low. After introducing us to Russia’s Facebook equivalent, vkontakte.ru, she first brings up the issue of Internet censorship. Although similar in purpose, Vkontakte has far more government controlled restrictions than Facebook does. To help put this censorship into context, we learned that Russia not only censors more than 4,000 websites daily, but also requires anyone on social media with more than 3,000 followers to legally register as an official media outlet. This gives the government jurisdiction to censor, ban and even tax you. After asking our class which Internet law structure seemed superior, the verdict was blatantly clear: The US.

 

“People have to fight to find the truth online these days. This is real… the absurdity of the censorship. It’s a way for the government to control the people.” -Anna Kluyeva

 

Anna then directed our focus towards two other censorship tools used by Russia: bots and trolls. Notably, Russia has the Internet’s largest army of trolls, who post inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages online with the deliberate intent of disrupting normal on-topic discussion. In addition, they employ a number of robots, or bots, that generate pre-made messages on blogs and other online content with the same intent of changing the conversation. The Ukraine has specifically suffered from Russia’s dissemination of false information about the country, and the U.S. government has tasked people with combatting these trolls due to  their significant impact on online discussions. According to Anna, “Russia’s Internet trolls do not add to the discussion; they take away from it, and they get paid for it.”

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“In Russia, social media is not an instrument of democracy; It’s an instrument of oppression.” – Anna Kluyeva

 

Anna explains how government censorship scares people into censoring their own posts, and this self censorship ultimately inhibits self expression. Although the purpose of social media is to unite different communities and expand global communication, in Russia it’s a tool used by the government to oppress its citizens. The laws in place allow the government to censor what is on the Internet and hinders its citizens ability to speak freely. Russian citizens have to be careful of every maneuver they make online because it can lead to fines or jail time. In addition, companies are required to keep record of all its users information, which allows Russia to store their citizen’s information. Anna wrapped up her lecture with a statement that summarizes it all: “Self censorship kills self-expression.”

 

To read our live tweets during this lecture, please visit this link to our Storify Twitter Summary: https://storify.com/RebeccaaaDawn/anna-kluyeva-talk

 

For more information, visit these links that were shared by eAnna and members of our class during this discussion:

 

  • How to Identify an Internet Troll: An Infographic:
    http://www.infographicsarchive.com/tech-and-gadgets/how-to-identify-an-internet-troll/
  • Russia’s Social Network Penetration:
    http://www.statista.com/statistics/284447/russia-social-network-penetration/
  • Analyzing Kremlin Twitter Bots:
    http://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/04/02/analyzing-kremlin-twitter-bots/print/ (Links to an external site.)
  • The Curious Chronology of Russian Twitter Bots:
    http://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/04/27/the-curious-chronology-of-russian-twitter-bots/ (Links to an external site.)
  • Ministry of Truth Recruits Ukrainians for Internet Army:
    http://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/02/25/ministry-of-truth-recruits-ukrainians-for-internet-army/ (Links to an external site.)