Specifics of Infodemic in Russia: From WhatsApp to the Investigative Committee

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.14515/monitoring.2020.6.1778

Keywords:

pandemic, coronavirus, COVID-19, rumors, infodemic, fake news, digital anthropology

Abstract

Since January 2020, the Contemporary Folklore Monitoring research team has been studying the specifics of the infodemic in Russia (infodemic refers to widely circulated rumors, pseudoscientific remedies, conspiracy theories and denialism related to the COVID-19 epidemic). The study aims to describe what the infodemic involves and how it spreads. The authors draw two databases: (1) texts from the Russian social media collected using the Medialogia tool (167 narratives), and (2) cases of criminal and administrative trials against citizens for disseminating ‘inaccurate information’ (rumors) about the coronavirus and ways to fight that (203 cases).

Based on the quantitative and qualitative data analysis, the authors describe how the infodemic is ‘arranged’, what topics are popular, and why they are popular; they analyze what triggers the infodemic ‘waves’; and what types of narrative circulated through informal channels of communication may pose danger to public health or can be considered dangerous by the court.

Acknowledgements. The study is part of the RANEPA state assignment research program.

Our research group expresses its heartfelt gratitude to Maria Shklyaruk and Mikhail Benyukhis, without whose help the work on the paper would not have been possible, to our colleagues  Dr Ian Brodie, Dr Aglaya Starostina, Dr Anna Kirzyuk, Dr Iosif Zislin and Sergey Belyanin, for their help in the work on the article, the human-right watch organizations OVD-Info and Agora "for providing results of their monitoring, Ilya Ferapontov, editor of N + 1, for providing a platform for operational publications, as well as all our correspondents who, sparing no effort and time, found and sent us more and more examples of rumors and fakes.

Author Biographies

Alexandra S. Arkhipova, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

  • Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Philology), Senior Researcher at the Laboratory for Theoretical Folklore Studies, School for Advanced Studies in Humanities
  • New Economic School, Moscow, Russia
    • Visiting Professor
  • Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia
    • Associate Professor at Centre for Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies

Daria А. Radchenko , Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

  • Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia
    • Sci. (Cultural Studies), Senior Researcher at the Laboratory for Theoretical Folklore Studies
  • Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Moscow, Russia
    • Director of the Centre for Urban Folklore and Anthropology Studies

Irina V. Kozlova, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow

  • Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Philology), Researcher at the Laboratory for Theoretical Folklore Studies, School for Advanced Studies in Humanities

Boris S. Peigin

  • Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia
    • Invited Researcher at the Laboratory for Theoretical Folklore Studies

Maria V. Gavrilova, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

  • Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia
    • Sci. (Philology), Senior Researcher at the Laboratory for Theoretical Folklore Studies
  • Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Moscow, Russia
    • Senior Researcher at the Centre for Urban Folklore and Anthropology Studies

Nikita V. Petrov, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration

  • Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Philology), Head of the Laboratory for Theoretical Folklore Studies, School for Advanced Studies in Humanities
  • Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, Moscow, Russia
    • Senior Researcher at the Centre for Urban Folklore and Anthropology Studies
  • Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia
    • Associate Professor at the Center of Typological and Semiotics Folklore Studies

Published

2020-12-30