April 10, 2017  |  Updated June 14, 2018

Deciphering Pro-Russian Facebook Trolls In Romania

By Corina Rebegea

This article was originally published by CEPA.

Scanning a number of recent pro-Russian Facebook pages and profiles in the Romanian language shows a variety of stories apparently intended to sensitize the Romanian public to issues that are important for Russian foreign policy. They also may reflect the Kremlin’s efforts to experiment with social media. Along with anti-immigrant rhetoric, coverage of the Ukrainian crisis and comments on the EU’s failure, several narrative strands stand out: articles about Bulgaria’s elections, Turkey’s recent misbehavior, Serbian nationalism, the risk of a Euromaidan in Belarus or even in Russia, and the war in Syria.

Unlike Sputnik News and other pro-Moscow news sites—which mainly use seemingly authoritative voices or experts to serve as mouthpieces for Kremlin propaganda in Romania—Facebook creates the appearance of credibility through like-mindedness and authenticity. The main narrative lines of these stories propagated through Facebook are atypical of those targeting Romanian audiences through online media (nationalism and Romanian unity, traditional and religious values and conspiracies). But they display typical propaganda narrative construction tools that are both common on Facebook and regular online media.

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