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  • Writer's pictureBetter Narrative Group

Russian TikTok Influencers Are Being Paid to Spread Kremlin Propaganda

The videos keep posting despite TikTok's ban on Russian uploads.

Silhouette of a smartphone that says TikTok

Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

VICE News recently uncovered a coordinated campaign to pay Russian TikTok influencers to post videos pushing pro-Kremlin narratives about the war in Ukraine.

These campaigns have been coordinated in a secret Telegram channel that directs influencers on what to say, where to capture videos, what hashtags to use, and when exactly to post the video in order to maximize views. The campaigns began at the beginning of the invasion and have involved a number of the highest-profile influencers on TikTok.

The amount of money being paid to the influencers is not known, but when users apply they are asked to name their price. Other Russian influencers estimate payment to be anywhere from 2,000 rubles to 20,000 rubles, which at current prices equates to as little as $17 per post.

Though TikTok banned new uploads from users located inside Russia in an attempt to contain the propaganda, the campaigns continue.

On Wednesday evening, the campaign coordinator advertised a new campaign seeking TikTok users to post videos calling for national unity.

The Telegram channel coordinating the campaigns was abruptly shut down on Wednesday, but not before they filled TikTok with Russian propaganda, including campaigns supporting Russian COVID-19 vaccines, the Russian economy, and Russian Winter Olympians—and most recently, pro-Russian messages about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

One of these campaigns featured a series of prominent influencers all reading the same script. The script attempts to excuse the war in Ukraine by promoting the falsehood that Ukraine perpetrated a genocide against Russian speaking in the Donbas region over the last eight years.

This aligns with the narrative being pushed by the Kremlin that Kyiv was carrying out a “genocide” against the Russian-speaking population in Donbas, which Putin used as a justification for the invasion of Ukraine.

While many of the videos have been taken down, many still remain on the platform and have racked up hundreds of thousands of views.

While this specific disinformation hub has been knocked down, others will replace it, especially as Russia struggles to win the information war against Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. We are already seeing instances where Russian propaganda-makers are pretending to be a left-leaning progressive media outlet based in Germany and producing fake fact-checks of non-existent Ukrainian disinformation.



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