arXiv:2402.14947v1 Announce Type: cross
Abstract: Governments use propaganda, including through visual content — or Politically Salient Image Patterns (PSIP) — on social media, to influence and manipulate public opinion. In the present work, we collected Telegram post-history of from 989 Russian milbloggers to better understand the social and political narratives that circulated online in the months surrounding Russia’s 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Overall, we found an 8,925% increase (p<0.001) in the number of posts and a 5,352% increase (p<0.001) in the number of images posted by these accounts in the two weeks prior to the invasion. We also observed a similar increase in the number and intensity of politically salient manipulated images that circulated on Telegram. Although this paper does not evaluate malice or coordination in these activities, we do conclude with a call for further research into the role that manipulated visual media has in the lead-up to instability events and armed conflict. Expert Commentary: Analyzing Politically Salient Image Patterns (PSIP) on Social Media


In today’s digital age, social media has become a powerful platform for governments and political entities to disseminate their messages and shape public opinion. A recent study titled “Politically Salient Image Patterns (PSIP) on Social Media: A Case Study of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine” focuses on the use of visual content or PSIP on Telegram, a popular messaging app. Through the analysis of data from 989 Russian milbloggers, the study aims to shed light on the social and political narratives that emerged surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Understanding the Impact of Visual Content

The study highlights the significant role played by visual content in influencing public opinion. Images possess the power to evoke emotions, convey messages, and shape narratives more effectively than text alone. As such, understanding the patterns and messages within PSIP is crucial in comprehending the impact of propaganda on social media platforms.

Multi-Disciplinary Nature of PSIP Analysis

An analysis of PSIP involves a multidisciplinary approach, encompassing various fields such as multimedia information systems, animations, artificial reality, augmented reality, and virtual realities.

  • Multimedia Information Systems: The study relies on data collection and analysis methodologies used in the field of multimedia information systems. By examining post-history on Telegram, researchers gain insights into the types of visual content employed by milbloggers.
  • Animations: The use of animated images, GIFs, or short videos can be a powerful method to captivate and influence viewers. Analyzing PSIP can reveal if such techniques were utilized during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Artificial Reality and Virtual Realities: The manipulation of visual content can extend beyond the physical realm through the use of augmented reality or virtual reality technologies. By examining PSIP, researchers can assess whether such technologies were harnessed to amplify propaganda efforts.

Implications and Future Directions

The findings of this study provide valuable insights into the role of PSIP in shaping social and political narratives during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Understanding the techniques employed by governments and political entities in manipulating public opinion is crucial for safeguarding the integrity of digital platforms and democracy at large.

Furthermore, this research opens up avenues for future studies. By expanding the dataset to include different regions or conflicts, researchers can compare the strategies employed and identify common patterns or approaches utilized in different geopolitical contexts.

In conclusion, the analysis of Politically Salient Image Patterns (PSIP) on social media offers a deeper understanding of the influence of visual content in shaping public opinion. The interdisciplinary nature of this analysis connects various fields and provides a comprehensive perspective on the dynamics at play in this digital age.

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