Days before TikTok suspended all live-streaming and new content from Russia on its platform, videos of Russian influencers supporting the war on Ukraine circulated online.
In the videos, the influencers mention the eight-year genocide by the Ukrainian people in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, for which there is no reported evidence. When seen one-by-one, the TikTokers seem to be independently reiterating Putin’s rallying cry for invading Ukraine more than a week ago.
But when overlaid on top of each other, the Russian influencers seem to have the same exact speech condemning Ukraine for murdering children, down to the very word.
They all note the Alley of Angels, a memorial erected in 2015 for the children who died in the war in Donbas, where “hundreds of innocent children were killed,” and the shelling of residents continues. “We do not want to install new memorials and cannot allow the death of innocent children, Russia wants to stop the eight-year genocide in the Donbass and return the peaceful sky over their heads to children,” they all say in unison.
Most of the videos have since been taken down, but some can still be found online.
The videos may well be Russian propaganda, given their eerie similarity, and many on TikTok are alleging the Russian government has been bribing influencers to post videos and convince the country’s youth that its “special military operation” is the right way forward.
TikTok on Monday announced it would suspend livestreaming and new content in Russia after a law took effect that had passed the lower houses of parliament on Friday that would increase jail time to up to 15 years for anyone intentionally spreading “fake news” about the military.
In a statement posted on the company’s Twitter and website, TikTok noted, “We have no choice but to suspend livestreaming and new content to our video service while we review the safety implications of this law.”
This is not the first social media platform to cut the lights in Russia. On Friday, Russia’s communications censor Roskomnadzor blocked access to Facebook throughout Russia.
The country has also been slowing down social-media services, including Twitter and YouTube, to make them harder and more frustrating to use, after the two platforms banned some Russian content on their platform.
TikTok did respond to a request for comment.
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