Bulgaria has discovered a broad network of spammy sites created to spread false news and disinformation, including Russian disinformation.
According to Euractiv, the Bulgarian think tank Human and Social Studies Foundation, known as the expert in researching Russian propaganda on the Internet, has discovered a new network.
HSSF analysts have identified a network of nearly 400 similar websites that appear to have been created specifically to broadcast Russian narratives to the Bulgarian audience.
According to their findings, the increase in the number of such resources is one of the reasons for the rapid growth of Russian propaganda in the Bulgarian media landscape.
Thus, by the end of 2022, compared to 2021, the amount of such content increased almost 20 times. Analysts note that there were two main spikes at the beginning and end of the year, increasing the total number of sites to 370.
The sites are likely using the Share4Pay platform, which pays users to share news from these sites on social media.
The analysts also noticed extremely high activity on Facebook – thousands of posts on pages in groups that received more than 7.6 million interactions. These pages are usually presented as entertainment or business rather than news.
According to the study, not all Russian disinformation messages are perceived equally. For example, the belief in the power of the “second world army” seems to be declining, and the positive perception of Putin has plunged three times. However, the narratives that, for example, Bulgaria is on the side of Ukraine because the Bulgarian government depends on its Western partners, that the West “dragged Russia into the war”, and that military assistance to Ukraine is dragging Bulgaria into the war are better accepted.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry accused the Russian ambassador of spreading disinformation when she said that sending Bulgarian soldiers to Ukraine would negatively affect the dialogue between Moscow and Sofia.