How Spot Russian Disinformation & Fake Site SouthFront.org ?

One  example of Russian Disinformation & Fake Site is SouthFront.org   — How to  know that  this site is   fake and only provides whatever suits Russia while pretending not be be Russian.    Easy.

Find out who owns and controls SouthFront.org   Go to SouthFront.org and on the site and on the site go to About.

There you find:

“SouthFront Analysis & Intelligence is a public analytical umbrella organization created and maintained by a team of experts and volunteers from the four corners of the Earth.”

That’s it.  That’s all the site will say about who owns SouthFront.org    Not much there is there?  Zero information as to who owns and controls the site.

Further — the articles provide no authors as to who wrote the article and no sources as to whence  the highly particular, detailed information. 

Note –   if you want to contact  SouthFront.org, you must provide your first and last name and your e-mail address.    Search high and long and you will find no names and no e-mails for any person supposedly connected with SouthFront.org

Does that give you a clue?  You must identify yourself but the site will not identify anyone as actually is connected with the site.

Another way to determine  whether  SouthFront is fake  is to examine what others say.  So what do others say?

Reports of disinformation

“In 2016, Finnish journalist Jessikka Aro writing in Springer Link described SouthFront as “an allegedly citizen-sourced project that looks more like a suspicious information operation.” Describing it as “a fascinating hybrid of revealingly detailed military intelligence and totally bogus stories,” she said that the site’s content centers on “the success of Russia’s armed forces, and showing off Russia’s weapons.”[2]

“In 2020, the US State Department described SouthFront as part of Russia’s “disinformation and propaganda ecosystem,” where Russian state actors team with others whose connection to Russia was less clear, in order to get wide attention for their ideas.

According to the State Department  report, SouthFront “combines Kremlin talking points with detailed knowledge of military systems and ongoing conflicts and attempts to appeal to military enthusiasts, veterans, and conspiracy theorists.”[3]

“In 2021 and again in 2022, the US Treasury announced sanctions against SouthFront, calling it in 2021 “an online disinformation site registered in Russia that…attempts to appeal to military enthusiasts, veterans, and conspiracy theorists, all while going to great lengths to hide its connections to Russian intelligence.”[4][5]

“The 2022 Treasury report alleged that SouthFront was sanctioned in part for being “owned or controlled by, or for having acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the FSB” which is Russia’s successor to Soviet Union’s KGB.[5]

History

In 2014, Radio Free Europe, reported: “The English-language Facebook page for South Front, which has slightly more than 11,500 subscribers, is a mix of carefully selected ‘news’ from the region — usually from sources like LifeNews, a video news outlet believed to have ties to Russia’s security services — and anti-Ukrainian and anti-Western memes.”[6] They described SouthFront as “a group supporting pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.”[6]

Writing in 2019, the European Union’s East StratCom Task Force analyzed site meta-data and reported, “South Front is registered in Russia, money donated to the site goes to Russia and the editor is named Anastasia.

But the most compelling evidence for South Front’s being Russian is in the content…South Front is loyally relaying whatever suits the Kremlin, pretending not to be Russian.”[1] Two days after that report appeared, SouthFront anonymized their videos, removing Russian text that had listed the name of their video editor as “Natasha.”[7] The second report also cited WHOIS information for southfront.org, showing the domain was registered on April 30, 2015, with Russian registrar REG.RU.[8]

In 2022, the US Treasury department said, “Although it previously focused on the 2020 U.S. presidential election, SouthFront has also spread information suggesting that Ukraine or NATO could use chemical weapons within the country with hopes to blame it on Russia.”[5]

Collaboration with Veterans Today and Veterans News Now

In 2017, researchers at Oxford University’s Internet Institute studied the collaboration of SouthFront with two US-based sites, Veterans Today and its sister site Veterans News Now.[9] Veterans Today is “a fake news site actively pushing the Kremlin party line,” according to University of Washington professor Kate Starbird.[10]

Philip N. Howard, one of the paper’s coauthors, told McClatchy DC the three websites underlay “an entire ecosystem of junk news about national security issues that is deliberately crafted for U.S. veterans and active military personnel…a complex blend of content with a Russian view of the world – wild rumors and conspiracies.”[11] The Oxford researchers concluded that the three sites were more successful on Twitter than on Facebook, saying “on Twitter there are significant and persistent interactions between current and former military personnel and a broad network of Russia-focused accounts, conspiracy theory focused accounts, and European right-wing accounts.”[9]

SouthFront representatives responded to a Politico story about the Oxford study with an email saying they had no connection to Russia’s government, adding that describing them as part of a Kremlin network was “contrary to the principles of freedom of speech and .. discriminatory against Russians.”[10]

Lots of sources report that SouthFront.org is fake.   And you say?

written 9/11/2022 by Cameron Jackson, Ph.D.     jaj48@aol.com   127 Jewell Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95003

 

 

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