Zelensky’s press marathon became most-talked-about sensation in the Ukrainian media field in November. Among other things, the guarantor stated that he had become the target of media attacks. Media battles took place in the comments on the marathon broadcasting — quite possible, against fake enemy.
NV Business and Molfar business intelligence agency analyzed the comments on the top-three most viewed streams of Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s press marathon on YouTube.
Context. What was counted and which way? We have counted the number of profiles and comments by the end of Volodymyr Zelensky’s press marathon broadcasting on three the most viewed streams onYouTube platforms of Ukrainian mass media —Radio Svoboda (the Ukrainian branch of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), TSN and Ukraine 24. We have also analyzed registration dates of the users who posted a comment on YouTube platform and, after reading over all comments and losing the faith in compatriots, we have identified their tone. The comments were grouped by the following categories: neutral to the President, positive for the President and negative for him. In the counting, we took into consideration only the users’ activity in the comments on the video, but not in the stream broadcast chats (stream broadcast chats have not enabled us to promptly identify users’ registration date which was critical at the first stage of our work).
Abnormal engagement of new users
We managed to collect the following data on the profiles of the commentators of the video recordings of more than five-hour press marathon of the President on three YouTube channels (where these videos were the most viewed):
Video No. 1. Radio Svoboda (450 thousand views, 1,165 comments received from 913 profiles at the moment of analysis);
Video No. 2. ТSN (346 thousand views, 1,332 comments received from 1,025 profiles at the moment of analysis);
Video No.3. Ukraine 24 (559.9 thousand views, 1,355 comments received from 1,076 profiles at the moment of analysis).
Most of the profiles who posted comments to this video were registered in 2020 and 2021.
A portion of such comments on the first video made a total of 24.2%, on the second one — 26.1%, on the third one — 27.8%.
At the same time, the number of the users who created an account in November 2021, i.e., who has been less than a month on YouTube, was quite large. On average, about one third of the commentators, who created accounts on YouTube during a period of eleven months of 2021, carried it out in November before the marathon.
Artem Starosiek, CEO of Molfar, says, “We see the abnormal activity in the area of new user account registration. We assume that these are fakes, given that the users who already have accounts usually do not tend to create the new ones just to post comments on one video.”
How did they comment the marathon on the Radio Svoboda channel?
Video recordings of the press marathon on YouTube channel of Radio Svoboda and users’ accounts have a total of 1,165 comments, 125 of which are posted from the accounts registered in 2021, and 29 - from the profiles registered in November.User comments are broken down, as follows:
- Neutral comments (comments on the broadcasting quality, general comments, etc.) — 163.
- Comments with negative statements about the President, his policy, ruling government, etc. — 351.
- Comments with positive statements about the President, his policy, ruling government, etc. — 621.
- Irrelevant comments — 30.
It is interesting that a major portion of positive comments about the President was raised with regard to the negative comments against the journalists who pose questions to the Head of State (widespread epithets — “hyenas”, ‘jackals”, and “corrupt journalists”), against whom, in the commentators’ opinion, Zelensky took the punch. A separate subcategory of positive comments – ridiculing, criticism and insult against the journalist Yuriy Butusov (in particular, the commentators were offended by the way he drank water), negative statements about Savik Shuster, Dmitry Gordon, Mikhail Tkach as well as the oligarchs whose money, in the commentators’ opinion, were “worked off” by the participants of the press marathon.
A major portion of positive comments about Zelensky — words of support to the President without any semantic reference to the topics discussed: “Our President!!!”, “The best President!!! Well done!!! We’ll follow you!”, “Good Job, Mr. President! Our gratitude and respect!”, etc.Among the users who commented on the video from their own accounts registered on YouTube in 2021, 71 of them posted comments positive for the President, 35 — negative, 19 — neutral. Among the users, registered in November 2021, positive comments on the President were posted 18 times, negative — 5, neutral— 6.
How did they comment the marathon on YouTube- channel of TSN?
A total of 1,132 comments on the video coverage of the press marathon on YouTube channel of TSN were posted.User comments are broken down, as follows:
- Neutral comments (comments on the broadcasting quality, general comments, etc.) — 161.
- Comments with negative statements about the President, his policy, ruling government, etc. — 268.
- Comments with positive statements about the President, his policy, ruling government, etc. — 703.
There are much more positive statements about the President and his policy posted below this video, as well as joint words of support to Volodymyr Zelensky and his family. Here we can also see wishes to the President to run for a second term (11 comments) and phrases of gratitude without reference to the context of the press marathon: “Thank you!” (23 comments in Ukrainian and 24 comments in Russian), etc., which are more often than in the other analyzed videos, where such comments were standalone. Furthermore, in contrast to the standalone comments on other videos, here the users more frequently recalled the roads and bridges built by Zelensky (10 positive comments), they praised Natalya Moseychuk (11 positive comments) and also confessed that they had not voted for Zelensky, but now they had completely changed their mind or were satisfied with the President, but dissatisfied with the journalists.
The comments of the users who registered in 2021 are broken down, as follows: positive in relation to the President and his policy — 66, negative — 60, neutral — 31. Among the users who registered in November 2021 the largest number, 19 comments, were positive; 10 comments turned to be negative, 8 comments — neutral.
How did they comment the marathon on YouTube- channel of Ukraine24?
A total of 1,355 comments on the video coverage of the press marathon on YouTube channel of Ukraine24 were posted.User comments are broken down, as follows:
- Neutral comments (comments on the broadcasting quality, general comments, etc.) — 238 (here, in the comments, they wondered more often than below other streams why those present did not wear masks and asked quarantine questions in general).
- Comments with negative statements about the President, his policy, ruling government, etc. — 505.
- Comments with positive statements about the President, his policy, ruling government, etc. — 612.
As compared to other broadcasting streams, it is below the video coverage on Ukraine24 channel that Volodymyr Zelensky more often “got his lumps from ill-wishers”. Among the most frequent, there were allegations of drug use (comments containing the words “coke”, “drug addict”, “clown” and their derivatives posted by 56, i.e. — 11% of all negative comments), the absence of logic in the replies and telling lies when answering the questions.
Putin, Burbaа, Wagnergate and shame
We have also counted whether commentators mentioned Wagnergate in the positive or negative (for the President) context.
So, the comments below the broadcasting stream on YouTube channel of Ukraine24 where Wagnergate, Vasyl Burba and special operation were mentioned are broken down, as follows:
- positive for Zelensky — 124.
- negative for Zelensky — 19.
- neutral — 9.
Below the broadcasting stream on YouTube channel of TSN:
- positive for Zelensky — 169.
- negative for Zelensky — 13,
- neutral — 5.
Below the broadcasting stream on YouTube channel of Radio Svoboda:
- positive for Zelensky — 138,
- negative for Zelensky — 39,
- neutral — 3.
Most of the comments on the Wagnergate case that were positive for the President— threats and accusations against Yuriy Butusov.
Apart from the standard for all videos confrontation “Zelensky / journalists”, where, in the positive comments, Zelensky is sometimes compared to a lion, and journalists – to hyenas and jackals, cads and “representatives of the oldest profession”, some commentators also actively mentioned Volodymyr Putin.
The President of Russia was mentioned in two contexts:
- the journalists were proposed to “behave like this” / “try to behave like this” to Putin (that, in the commentators’ behavior, “threatens negative consequences for the mass media) or to go to work in Russia. There are more than two dozen of such comments
- Volodymyr Zelensky was compared to Putin. In particular, they wrote about Zelensky, “when communicating, he spoke in Putin’s manner”, “he copies Putin’s facial expressions and gestures”, “he imitates Putin”. 10 similar comments were posted below the stream on YouTube channel of Ukraine24, 3 — below TSN’s stream, 5 — below Radio Svoboda’s stream.
The following words were the most frequent in the comments to the video recording of Volodymyr Zelensky’s press marathon:
- President — 1185.
- Journalists / journos / presstitutes — 502.
- Zelensky — 449.
- Butusov — 321.
- Disgrace/shame — 242.