In their French, German as well as Spanish output, state media groups have “politicized the coronavirus by criticizing Western democracies, praising their home countries, and promoting conspiracy theories about the origins of the virus”, the institute said.
“A majority of the content in these outlets is factually based. But what they have, especially if you look at the Russian outlets, is an agenda to discredit democratic countries,” Oxford researcher Jonathan Bright told AFP.
“The subtle weave in the overarching narrative is that democracy is on the verge of collapse.”
The institute looked at output from Russia’s RT broadcaster and Sputnik news agency; China Global Television Network (CGTN), China Radio International (CRI) and Xinhua News Agency; plus foreign-language output from Iranian and Turkish networks.
It measured median engagement per shared article — how many times a user actively shares or likes an article on Facebook, or comments about it and retweets it on Twitter.
The study covered each outlet’s 20 most popular stories from May 18 to June 5.