A movement that started on Twitter has now gone beyond that. The protest came about after a schoolboy hashtag #NoRussiaNoGames after the country was excluded from the Winter Olympics that is set to hold in South Korea.
Russians are angry at an international decision taken by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to ban the country from participating in the Pyeongchang games that will take place in South Korea early next year, with the committee accusing the Russian team of “unprecedented” doping violations.
The displeasure of the masses though has been increased ten-fold by some automated or semi-automated Twitter accounts known as “bots” and “trolls”. This was according to a social media traffic analyst that studied the situation.
Twitter just like other social media platforms in the U.S has come under extreme pressure from the U.S Congress as it is suspected the platforms were used by Russians to meddle with last year’s U.S. presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. The Russian government has since come out to deny those allegations.
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin has come out to dismiss the decision of the ICO, describing it as “orchestrated and politically-motivated”.
Media in the country have reported massive protest surrounding the “NoRussiaNoGames” hashtag. Researcher Ben Nimmo commenting on the issue stated that most of the public support for Russian athletes online was genuine, however, not all the Twitter activity can be considered as real.
Nimmo, an employee of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at Atlantic Council added that “What we’ve got here is a small but genuine hashtag campaign, which is being exaggerated and amplified by Russian state propaganda outlets to make it look like the campaign is huge and an upwelling of popular anger.”
Twitter didn’t respond to the questions asked but refer reporters to their user policy which clearly prohibits spamming by both automated and non-automated accounts.
The hashtag was first seen on Russian social-networking site VK, with the post sent by a schoolboy who was angry at the lifetime Olympic bans handed been handed to six of their cross-country skiers back in November, with the six athletes accused of doping violations.