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Social Media Posts Claim Zelensky's Wife Spent Millions On Bugatti Sportscar

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the spread of misinformation and disinformation on social media, particularly regarding claims about the Ukrainian president's wife Olena Zelenska's alleged purchase of a Bugatti sports car for millions of euros. The article analyzes the factors that contribute to the proliferation of such false narratives, including cognitive biases, the appeal of sensational stories, and the blurring of credibility markers online.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Misinformation and Disinformation Campaigns

1. What are the key claims made in the misinformation/disinformation campaign against the Ukrainian president and his wife?

  • The claims include:
    • Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, recently spent millions of dollars on a Bugatti sports car.
    • Zelenska took a shopping trip to Paris in December 2022 where she spent $42,500 on designer clothing and accessories.

2. What is the purpose of this misinformation/disinformation campaign?

  • The campaign is trying to raise questions about why the United States is providing military aid to Ukraine.

3. How did the latest claim about the Bugatti purchase originate?

  • The claim reportedly began with the French-language website Verité Cachée (Hidden Truth), which reported that the Ukrainian president and his wife had been given a private presentation of the Bugatti vehicle during their trip to France in early June.
  • The website also shared a purported invoice and a video with a Bugatti dealership employee, which have been debunked as fake.

4. How have fact-checkers and authorities responded to these claims?

  • The Center for Countering Disinformation noted that "russian propaganda sources spread a fake about Olena Zelenska's alleged purchase of a Bugatti Tourbillon for 4.5 million euros."
  • The claims have been widely debunked, but many people still accept the story as factual.

[02] Factors Contributing to the Spread of Misinformation

1. What role do cognitive biases and confirmation bias play in the dissemination of disinformation?

  • Cognitive bias and confirmation bias play a significant role, as the audience targeted by the message tends to be already skeptical of the government and U.S. aid to Ukraine.
  • The message builds on past claims that Zelensky is independently wealthy, making it easier for people to believe that successful people have big spending habits and are corrupt.

2. How does the simplicity of the message contribute to the success of propaganda and disinformation campaigns?

  • The simpler the message, the more likely it is to be picked up and circulated, as it does not require extensive explanations or verification.

3. What role do "trusted sources" on social media play in the spread of misinformation?

  • Some users have become "trusted sources" on social media by posting what they claim are stories that are being ignored or buried by the mainstream media, which can reinforce the believability of the misinformation.

4. How does the saturation of information and the blurring of credibility markers online contribute to the difficulty in discerning truth?

  • The overwhelming number of online sources, from new-age blogs to fake social media accounts, makes it increasingly challenging to distinguish between what's genuine and what's fabricated.
  • The ease with which anyone can purchase verification badges today undermines the credibility of symbols once thought to signify trustworthy sources.

5. How do high-profile figures and social media personalities contribute to the spread of misinformation?

  • Even highly intelligent and public figures like Elon Musk occasionally share patently false stories to stir the pot and make headlines.
  • Sharing "news the mainstream media will ignore" is seen as a "badge of honor" in social media culture, as it gives the person sharing it a perception of being an insider and "too clever" to fall for the "lies," which then inflates the ego of the followers.
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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