Mapping the Global Audiences of Russia’s Domestic News: How Social Networks Function as Transmitters of Authoritarian News to Foreign Audiences
In this study, I investigated the foreign Facebook audiences of Russia’s most influential domestic news outlets (n = 50) with regard to the presence of criticism toward the political elite (nonleadership-critical, leadership-critical). Accordingly, I triangulated two Facebook application programming interfaces that have rarely been used in communication research. Findings demonstrate that, as of January 24, 2022–February 23, 2022, 40% of the outlets attract more than half of their Facebook audience abroad. The largest audiences are found (1) in the post-Soviet region, hence, in countries with high geographical and language proximity, and (2) for nonleadership-critical news outlets. This study is politically relevant, as it shows how Facebook primarily functions as a transmission channel of Russian state-aligned news to foreign audiences.