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Russian public sector workers ordered to ‘like’ social media posts promoting the 2019 Winter Universiade

The Kremlin attaches special importance to international sporting events like the Universiades // kremlin.ru, under CC2.0

Public sector workers in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, will be ordered to ‘like’ and ‘leave positive comments’ under social media posts promoting the 2019 Winter Universiade, an international multi-sports event for university athletes, according to minutes of the meeting at Krasnoyarsk city council posted online by one of its former members.

Земляки, предлагаю поддержать лайками все материалы в соц сетях связанных с Универсиадой в нашем городе. Это важно. Тем…

Geplaatst door Владимир Владимирович Владимиров op Donderdag 14 februari 2019

Земляки, предлагаю поддержать лайками все материалы в соц сетях связанных с Универсиадой в нашем городе. Это важно. Тем более 3 пункт предписывает это чинам и ответственным. Но мы то с вами понимаем и без этого, что событие международное и его важно провести хорошо, чтобы остались хорошие эмоции и впечатления.

Fellow citizens, I suggest that we support with our Likes all the materials posted on soc[ial] media related to the Universiade in our city. It is important. All the more because item 3 orders the responsible public servants to do so. But we don’t need instructions to understand that this is an event of international importance and it’s crucial that its execution is proper and leaves a good impression.

The minutes, signed by Krasnoyarsk city hall’s head for cultural affairs, put forward a social media strategy for promotion of cultural events to be held in the city alongside the Universiade in early March 2019. The core of this strategy, focused solely on Vkontakte, Russia’s biggest social network, is twofold.

Items 1 and 2 of the agenda describe government-mandated “content creation” by municipal cultural institutions, among them music schools and museums, on their Vkontakte pages to promote the Universiade. Item 3 puts the responsibility on the heads of these institutions to supply “likes and positive comments” to posts by official Universiade accounts “as part of the loyalty programme.”

In other words, teachers and museum workers will be forced to act as “human bots” to promote a government-sponsored event.

This is not the first time something like that has happened in Russia. Last year, Meduza reported that teachers and civil servants in the Moscow region were ordered to ‘like’ posts on social media by state officials, keep track of their ‘likes’ and regularly submit performance reports.

Moscow mayor’s office also employs a network of “human bots”: pro-government activists who participate in online campaigns praising the mayor in exchange for a promise of a career in the government.

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