MIP: Experts Discuss Role, Importance of Telegram
On 1 July 2019, a round table titled “Telegram: An Instrument for Communicating with Society or a Tool for Election Manipulations?”, organised by the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine, was held at the press centre of the Ukrinform news agency.
The Deputy Minister of Information Policy of Ukraine, Dmytro Zolotukhin, said why studying Telegram is interesting and important for Ukraine; singled out the key reasons behind its growth; called for careful use of information from anonymous sources distributed via Telegram; and presented cases of the use of Telegram by Russia in its information warfare against Ukraine and in communicating its narratives to Ukrainian audiences.
Speaking of whether raising the issue of Telegram, which is likely a pro-Russian platform, is by any measure appropriate, Mr Zolotukhin said, “If you do not control information space and set the agenda, someone else does this for you.” Therefore, the Deputy Minister believes, being aware of the instruments of Telegram and their use by the Russian side helps prevent subtle negative influence on Ukraine’s information environment and prospective election meddling.
Other experts shared their experience. Oleksii Kharchenko, senior communications expert at Association4U, pointed out the peculiarities of the use of Telegram by state bodies and explained their pros and cons at length.
Aliona Dienha, an expert in digital communications and online marketing, spoke of the mechanism of the work of Telegram, the ways of engaging audiences, and political advertising on the platform.
Andrii Brodetskyi, author of the Telegram channel “Technology, Media and Society”, spoke about the development of Telegram, its key trends of development in Ukraine, and its potential risks.
All the experts subsequently agreed that it is not Telegram as such or its use by Ukrainians that poses a threat but careless distribution and promotion by leading Ukrainian news media of anonymous and unverified content posted on anonymous Telegram channels, most of which are controlled by Russian and pro-Russian forces.