The video is short, digestible, and catchy. A young Twitter personality dives into the latest news from Venezuela while trendy music plays in the background. According to the video, President Donald Trump and his “right-wing” allies in South America are supporting a “straight-up coup” in the country. She continues, “My god – one week it’s Syria, today it’s Venezuela, next week it’s Iran. Pick a damn country America!” The video, which has over 300,000 views on Twitter and nearly 600,000 views on Facebook, has high production value and is clearly targeted at digital-oriented millennials. But this isn’t a BuzzFeed or Vice production. Instead a watermark for “Soapbox,” an online media company, sits in the right-hand corner. What many people watching and sharing the video probably don’t know is that – along with several other social media channels targeting young, digital consumers – Soapbox (@SoapboxStand on Facebook) is a product of Russia’s state-backed media.
Despite the massive view-counts on its videos, @SoapboxStand has only 37,000 followers on its Facebook page. But it benefits from other forms of distribution. Its material is commonly shared by other digital news organizations and personalities, such as Anissa Naouai. Naouai is the host of In The Now, another news program that specializes in short, striking, contrarian “journalism” for consumption and viral distribution on social media. In The Now maintains nearly four million followers on Facebook. Until recently, In The Now – and Naouai – were openly affiliated with RT(formerly Russia Today), a media outlet identified by the U.S. Intelligence Community as a vector for Kremlin propaganda abroad.Read more