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Reporting From ‘Ground Zero’

In the age of Social Media, reels, blogging and vlogging have become the top trending items. With smartphones emerging as an integral part of human lives, trending has become an effective weapon in military warfare.

Military Blogger or Milliblog is one such weapon. Military Bloggers send reports directly from the battlefield, informing common people about the situation at ground zero. As the social media often see spread of fake news, it is quite difficult to trust the Millibloggers. Hence, people do not even realise when they become victims of propaganda. A Washington DC-based research organisation recently claimed in its report that the influence of Millibloggers has become important in the context of war. It is dangerous, because Millibloggers often serve false information for personal gain, thus, misguiding their target audience. Many are affected by the controversial comments of those bloggers. Behind all these, there is a razor-sharp strategy brainstormed by a top political leadership.

Social media have become one of the most important tools to influence people in the past decade. The users of social media played an important role during the US Presidential Elections, and the Russia-Ukraine War. From the living room to the battlefield, bloggers are present everywhere. Social media channels, run by Millibloggers, have become the mouthpieces of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. More than 500 such blogs have been created since the beginning of the war on February 24, 2022. Almost all these blogs are littered with nationalist and inflammatory messages, as they back war, and spread subversive ideology.

As per the report prepared by the US organisation, the majority of the social media users do not trust information shared by the Russian Ministry of Defence, but they believe these bloggers. Interestingly, what the Kremlin’s official television channel is saying, these bloggers are saying just the opposite. Moscow has claimed that it fails to bring these Millibloggers under control, despite taking various strict measures. Perhaps, Moscow has made a false claim. The Millibloggers have condemned the Russian Ministry of Defence, but, oddly, have supported the war. Even they are constantly provoking the Russian Forces to become more aggressive against Ukraine.

These Millibloggers are sharing their contents through Telegram, VK (a Russian online social media and social networking service based in Saint Petersburg), RuTube (a Russian video platform) and other similar platforms. Most importantly, they are not using information provided by any Government Department. Instead, they are sharing their own views and opinions, freely. Millibloggers are not afraid to criticise the Russian military officers, and to expose the failure of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the war against Ukraine. Each of them has 0.5 to one million followers! One such blogger recently slammed the Russian Army Commanders, stating that they were pushing the Russian soldiers into danger because of their poor planning.

Initially, President Putin supposedly backed these Millibloggers. Now, the situation has gone out of control. Russian milliblogger Semyon Vladimirovich Pegov (aka Semen Pegov; b. September 9, 1985), who works for the military project WarGonzo, has a Telegram channel that has been associated with the Russian special services. Some of his contents have allegedly been accused of spreading fake news. Pegov recently mentioned in one of his contents that a hit-list of bloggers, like him, has been prepared by the Russian Ministry of Defence. He further claimed that the Russian ministry prepared the list after consulting with the Army Generals and Military Commanders. After 2.8 million people viewed his post, Pegov denied the claim.

President Putin, too, has praised these Millibloggers for their transparency in reporting on the war. The Russian Strongman has also campaigned for some famous bloggers.

Although their narratives are different from that of Russian State-run television channels, these pro-war Millibloggers enjoy the support of the top political leadership in the Kremlin. This is a different strategy to fool people.

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