Poynter’s Updates on Media Coverage of the War in Ukraine

From The Poynter Report with Tom Jones:

While the Russian government is doing its best to limit (and control) what information is getting to its citizens, a new website is working to get around the Kremlin and get the real story to individuals in Russia.

The Wall Street Journal’s Bojan Pancevski reports that a website developed by programmers in Poland obtained 20 million cellphone numbers and 140 million email addresses of Russian individuals and companies. Pancevski wrote, “The site randomly generates numbers and addresses from those databases and allows anyone anywhere in the world to message them, with the option of using a pre-drafted message in Russian that calls on people to bypass President Vladimir Putin’s censorship of the media. Since it was launched on March 6, thousands of people across the globe, including many in the U.S., have used the site to send millions of messages in Russian, footage from the war, or images of Western media coverage documenting Russia’s assault on civilians, according to Squad303, as the group that wrote the tool calls itself.”

A spokesperson for Squad303 told the Journal, “Our aim was to break through Putin’s digital wall of censorship and make sure that Russian people are not totally cut off from the world and the reality of what Russia is doing in Ukraine.”

It’s not known, exactly, how effective these messages are and there could be a serious downside.

The Journal wrote, “Receiving such messages could present risks for some residents of Russia. Russian police were filmed checking people’s mobile phones and reading their communication following a string of antiwar protests in recent days.”

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