Researcher Khalimzoda Ilkhom

161100 €

Social Media Crossroads: Navigating the Russia-West Divide

Tieteellinen tutkimus / siihen pohjautuva työ | Nelivuotinen

Russian speakers in Finland exhibited a notable preference for and engagement with non-Russian news media sources and bi-cultural (not isolative) orientation in Finland (Khalimzoda and Siitonen, 2022). However, the eruption of the Ukrainian conflict has triggered a surge in (counter) disinformation, transforming social media into a volatile arena of competing war opinions, often characterized by divisive positioning and othering. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced in the two largest Facebook groups for Russian speakers in Finland, boasting over ninety thousand followers. Here, discussions surrounding Western sanctions against Russia, Finland's economic challenges, and political discourse concerning Russia in general, have reached notable levels of prominence. These dynamics are further exacerbated by the gatekeeping roles of group moderators, who often seem to adopt provocatively commentary journalism style tone/twists of the selected and reshared news content, where an ordinary news report (e.g., from Yle or HS) may be presented in completely opposite direction. In response to this backdrop, this study employs positioning (Moghaddam & Harré, 2010) and gatekeeping (Shoemaker, 2008) theories to analyze the practices of positioning, othering, and gatekeeping pertaining to the three most debated topics: 1) Western sanctions against Russia, 2) Finland's economic downturn, and 3) political discourse on Russia since the war in Ukraine broke out. The project aims to organize two seminars, one animated video, and quality publications.