Washington Post Notes Russian RT Broadcaster's Exceptional Influence On Public Opinion

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 22nd September, 2018) The Russian RT broadcaster has an exceptional influence on social media users, the Washington Post newspaper reported, citing researchers of the University of Copenhagen.

The researchers analyzed Twitter users' engagement generated by the Malaysian MH17 flight crash in 2014 and the ways the information about the tragedy was spread, and found that a concept about the Kremlin and the western countries "weaponizing" information to win public opinion and waging information wars could be challenged, the outlet reported on Thursday.

The research found that citizens using social media played the most important role in spreading the information and forming the public opinion on the issue.

The outlet noted, that social media allowed ordinary people to oppose disinformation and spread news rather than only passively receive information.

The newspaper added that ordinary social media users even outperformed traditional media outlets, such as the BBC and CNN, in spreading information and influencing public opinion.

However, RT was an exception in this case, the outlet noted. Being a public opinion leader within a social media cluster blaming Ukraine and the West for shooting down MH17, the broadcaster has demonstrated a high level of influence on the audience, according to the publication.

The newspaper noted that the question of why RT was exceptionally influential, should be subject to further research.

On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry presented declassified files on the Buk missile that hit the MH17 flight in 2014, showing that the missile was made at Russia's Dolgoprudny Plant in 1986, delivered to a military unit in Ukraine and remained in the country after the USSR collapsed in 1991.

Flight MH17 crashed with 298 people on board on July 17, 2014, in eastern Ukraine, while en route to Kuala Lumpur from Amsterdam, leaving no survivors. Kiev and self-proclaimed republics in Ukraine's southeast have blamed each other for the downing of Malaysia Airlines plane.

The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) concluded that the plane was brought down by the missile, which came from the 53rd Anti-aircraft Missile Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, based near Russia's Kursk. The Russian Foreign Ministry refuted the conclusions as groundless and called the investigation biased.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the JIT accusations of having a role in the MH17 crash and said that these claims were unfounded while the investigation itself was biased. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia has not been granted access to the investigation, adding that Moscow would be able to recognize its results only if it is a part of the probe.

The Russian Defense Ministry has said that in 2011, the Russian authorities disposed of all the missiles from the series that included the missile whose engine the JIT demonstrated as an evidence to prove Russia's involvement in the downing of the plane.