Sputnik key influencer in the migration debate, Italian elections

Russia’s international news outlet Sputnik contributed to the radicalisation of the migration debate, central to the electoral campaign. The agency shared stories depicting the issue as a matter of national security,  an 'invasion' through the use of questionable sources and misleading headings. While right-wing politicians employ the same narrative, the use of social media bots and the network of anti-immigration groups on social media platforms made the content go viral conferring Sputnik a key influencer role in polarising the debate.

For years, Russia invested in creating alternative information and in targeting specific countries through its international news agencies. In January, Facebook announced a programme in cooperation with Italian fact-checking initiatives to fight fake news during the elections. Nevertheless, not only regular users, but also Italian public figures and bloggers quote Kremlin’s agencies as sources. Concerned over potential accuses of biased censorship, the social media platforms did not remove the content. On 14 March the Italian, the Five Star Movement (M5S) and far-right League started negotiating on the Presidents of the two legislative chambers of the newly elected Parliament, talks that could lead to a Kremlin-friendly coalition.

About author: Giada Negri


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