Recently, Italy has been in the focus of Russian government-funded TV network RT in an extraordinary manner, as La Stampa reports.
Are the demonstrators saying yes or no?
Italy is currently preparing for a referendum on constitutional reform on 4 December, initiated by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
On 29 October, RT live streamed an event in Rome, reporting that the streets were flooded by thousands of people protesting against the referendum and the Prime Minister. And in parts of Rome, the streets were indeed flooded by people, since they were attending the “Yes to the referendum” event that was held in Piazza del Popolo.
RT’s live stream reached 1.5 million viewers and gave them the impression that the exact opposite was actually happening.
When the fake news it out, the damage has been done
As La Stampa points out, this is not the first time that Russian media aim to influence the political debate in Italy.
The fabricated news report led to a complaint to the Russian authorities, and RT has since corrected the title of the report; however La Stampa still has the original screenshots. And as we have seen before, the damage is done once fake news has been spread.
Flooding the information space with fake news surrounding an event is a recurrent disinformation technique the Disinformation Digest has previously reported.
But why would RT misrepresent the events concerning a referendum in Italy? We can only speculate, but the outcome of the referendum has been described as potentially having an impact not only on politics in Italy, but also on the eurozone as a whole.