From the Alliance for Securing Democracy
New interactive tool tracks official Russian messaging and information manipulation
The Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund of the United States launched Hamilton 2.0, a new dashboard tracking Russian government-backed information operations online and on state-sponsored broadcast television. The interactive, publicly accessible dashboard captures content from more than 140 diplomatic and media accounts on Twitter, four state-sponsored news websites, RT’s television news broadcasts, and RT America and RT UK’s YouTube channels.
What Hamilton 2.0 Does
Among other features, the tool will rank the most active accounts in the data set, most popular tweets and hashtags, most discussed topics and countries, most shared articles on Facebook, and more. Hamilton 2.0 also provides summaries of daily video news segments from RT’s English television broadcasts, and archives RT America and RT UK videos posted to YouTube.
Hamilton 2.0 is the second iteration of ASD’s Hamilton 68 dashboard, which was retired at the end of 2018. The new interface enables reporters, researchers and interested citizens to identify the narratives Russia’s government seeks to promote in the United States and abroad – providing a comprehensive, big picture look at its strategic attempts to manipulate information around its geopolitical interests.
Trends to Watch
Discoverable by Hamilton 2.0
Russia is China’s cheerleader: Russian diplomats and media have assumed the role of China’s cheerleader in the West, presenting pro-Beijing positions on the ongoing Hong Kong protests, trade war, and controversy over Huawei. RT has actively promoted health concerns related to 5G expansion in the United States and Europe while simultaneously championing Huawei as a corporate innovator, including a series of “exclusives” at Huawei company headquarters.
Russian state-sponsored media rarely covers Russia: Russian broadcast media outlets that target the West cover everything from political correctness to Brexit to health conspiracy theories. One topic that gets surprisingly limited airtime: Russia itself. Analysis of Russian state-sponsored broadcast news outlets show that Russia is rarely discussed, except in instances where Russia is portrayed as a victim of the West. For example, RT America and RT UK‘s YouTube channels posted just two segments covering the recent nuclear accident in Arkhangelsk, both criticizing Western media coverage of the event. By comparison, there have been over 40 segments dedicated to Jeffrey Epstein. The Russian government prioritizes negative content that divides Americans and Europeans and sows distrust, rather than content that would promote a positive image of Russia. This exemplifies Russia’s efforts to represent Western democracies as weak, divided, and hypocritical in order to justify its corrupt government to its people.
Russia works daily to paint a picture of the West as a dystopian, big-brother state: RT’s coverage of issues related to censorship, the free press, privacy, and state surveillance by other governments stands in stark contrast to the Russian government’s own record on each of those fronts. Despite the rather obvious hypocrisy, RT and Sputnik have effectively seized upon grievances – some real and some perceived – that resonate with both the left and the right.