While Russia has used the internet to great effect to undermine Western democracy (by, for example, putting a fascist yam salad in the Oval Office), that wild and woolly platform can be a double-edged sword. And now some enterprising folks are using it to bypass Russia’s tightening control of local media during this latest conflict:
Russia’s communications regulator has accused 10 local media outlets of falsely depicting what Russia calls a special operation to demilitarise Ukraine. On Tuesday, Russia took radio station Ekho Moskvy off air, because of its coverage of the invasion.
But online comments on platforms such as Google Maps and Afisha.ru, a widely used lifestyle and entertainment website in Russia, are harder to contain – especially as internet users turn to online tools such as VPNs to circumvent restrictions on social media.
In a review of one of Moscow’s most popular seafood restaurants on Afisha.ru, one user wrote: “The deployment of troops in Ukraine is a war, not a special operation. Russian military kill children and civilians!!!!”
Personally, I haven’t seen such a full-throated defense of innocent children in a restaurant review since I last visited Chuck E. Cheese’s Yelp page, but there it is. There’s no hiding your bloodstained hands this time, Vlad. We all see you and your American quisling crew. The GOP is now trying to scurry away from Putin like cockroaches at a cockroach-eating contest, but their treachery has been extensively documented.
But never mind those assholes. Huzzah and godspeed to these brave assholes: “The place was nice!” said one reviewer. “However, Putin spoiled our mood by invading Ukraine. Rise up against your dictator, stop killing innocent people! Your government is lying to you.”
According to Reuters, the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous has been behind some of the efforts to bypass the Kremlin’s iron-fisted control of traditional media. On Twitter, the group has encouraged people to write reviews on Google Maps outlining the facts about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
Others have encouraged Ukraine’s supporters to use other social media platforms, such as Instagram. “In the text, write about the war and attach a photo of destroyed houses, casualties, and people in bomb shelters,” one user wrote.
Gee, seems like it would be almost impossible to staunch the flow of information Russia doesn’t like unless, say, someone accidentally pushed Putin out of a window into a dumpster full of polonium.
But hey, fucking with tyrants is a fun time. And anyone can do it! If you can’t or don’t want to donate money, you can always put your keyboard to good use. Democracy is back, baby! Let’s show the world we’re stronger than any tinpot dictator. Oh, and screw Putin and his GOP puppet brigade. But that goes without saying.