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How does Roskomnadzor track articles and comments on Ukraine?

Roskomnadzor uses the Brand Analytics system to automatically collect all Russian-language comments, posts and articles on the war in Ukraine. Today we will tell you what it is, who owns this IT product and how it is used.

 


What is Brand Analytics


Brand Analytics is a Russian system for monitoring and analysing the media field on the Internet. It is designed to analyse media, public channels and chat rooms, forums, social networks, blogging platforms, video hosting and other open sources that can be used to track people's reactions to certain events.


Brand Analytics is developed by an organisation of the same name, which was founded in 2013 as part of the Ayteko group of companies.

Ayteko - is a Russian IT integrator, operating on the market since 1997, one of the top 5 largest IT companies in the Russian Federation. 74% of shares are owned by billionaire Shamil Shakirov. 25% is owned by Alexey Remizov, a former lecturer at the USSR KGB Higher School (now the FSB Academy's IKSI), who in the 90s actually stood at the origins of the Russian IT market development.
Screenshot from https://www.tadviser.ru/index.php/Компания:Айтеко_%28Ай-Теко%2C_iTeco%29
Screenshot from https://www.tadviser.ru/index.php/Компания:Айтеко_%28Ай-Теко%2C_iTeco%29
Shamil Shakirov on the left and Alexei Remizov on the right.
Shamil Shakirov on the left and Alexei Remizov on the right.

Since its foundation, Ayteko has been working closely with the American company Hewlett-Packard (HP) for 17 years. The Brand Analytics system was developed with its financial support in 2013-2014.


Screenshot from https://www.tadviser.ru/index.php/Проект:HP_Россия_%28Brand_Analytics%29
Screenshot from https://www.tadviser.ru/index.php/Проект:HP_Россия_%28Brand_Analytics%29

The management of both IT giants planned to use this system in combination with the HP Explore software system. Brand Analytics was needed to monitor and collect information from social media, while HP Explore was needed to research, extract meaning and visualise the collected data. However, as of mid-2014, there are no more media reports about the collaboration between Ayteko and HP.

Initially, it was stated that the project was focused on analysing marketing trends, monitoring the business reputation of brands, and tracking public opinion on business products. Therefore, it would be possible to respond to the opinions and requests of the audience in a timely manner.


Prior to the publication of data from the servers of GRFC, such well-known companies as Decathlon, KFC, Sony, Bayer, Ahmad Tea, etc. could be seen among the major partners on the Brand Analytics website. Now most of the logos of foreign companies have been removed.

Screenshot from the official website of Brand Analytics
Screenshot from the official website of Brand Analytics

However, in reality, the system is used not only for business development.


Today, Brand Analytics has become part of the Kremlin's repressive apparatus and is used by Roskomnadzor to monitor media and users in the Russian-language segment of the Internet.

 

How is Brand Analytics being used for surveillance in Runet?


There are a lot of thematic videos about the functionality of Brand Analytics on the Internet. Therefore, we will only tell you about the part of the system's work that directly concerns tracking articles and comments on the war in Ukraine.


Brand Analytics can be used to collect information from the following sources:

  • Online media, press, TV, radio, news agency feeds.

  • Websites of companies, government agencies.

  • Social networks - Vkontakte, Facebook, Instagram, Odnoklassniki.

  • Video services - TikTok, Youtube.

  • Blogs, microblogs - LiveJournal, Twitter.

  • Review sites, forums.

  • Open channels and chats in Telegram.


Screen from the Brand Analytics system
Screen from the Brand Analytics system

I. e. virtually from any open resources where automatic data monitoring is possible.


The system allows you to collect:

  • All messages with certain keywords for a specified date and in the region of interest (for example, "Ukraine", "Putin", "Bucha", "war").

  • All messages on the pages of certain authors, communities, media, etc.

  • All comments and publications of certain persons (tracking of activists, opinion leaders).

Screenshot from the Brand Analytics system
Screenshot from the Brand Analytics system

When searching for materials with certain keywords, Brand Analytics analyses the texts of articles, posts, comments, titles, headlines, video subtitles, checkins, pictures, stories, online maps. If there is a keyword of interest anywhere in them, it all goes into the report.


Moreover, the system can collect not only the materials with certain words, but also the messages left by users, so that it is possible to assess the audience's reaction to a particular text.


Screenshot from the Brand Analytics system
Screenshot from the Brand Analytics system
 


Tracking results


Brand Analytics system provides all collected comments, posts and articles in the form of visual reports with graphs and flexible setting of output parameters.


The report contains the following information:

  • Publication date.

  • Text of the post, article, comment.

  • Link to the source.

  • Full name, gender, age, region of residence, which are specified in the author's profile.

  • Audience coverage.

  • Number of repetitions of the text in other sources.

  • Tone (no aggression, aggression, strong aggression).

Results of the issue after processing requests in the Brand Analytics system - screenshot of the document from the GRFC server
Results of the issue after processing requests in the Brand Analytics system - screenshot of the document from the GRFC server

Since 2022, Roskomnadzor employees have been using Brand Analytics to search for texts about the killing of civilians in Ukraine, mobilisation, shelling of Ukrainian cities, calls for protests, Putin's health, nuclear war and other "topical" topics.


The general summary includes all materials in Russian, which contain key words, even if they were written, for example, by Belarusians or Ukrainians, but not by Russians. For example, just for the period from 24 February to 3 March 2022, the Brand Analytics system automatically collected 195,176 comments on the shelling of Ukrainian cities.


Results of output after processing requests in the Brand Analytics system - screenshot of a document from the GRFC server
Results of output after processing requests in the Brand Analytics system - screenshot of a document from the GRFC server

Then these comments are received for processing by the employees of the Department for the organisation of monitoring of mass communication media (DMMCM), which is operated by Roskomnadzor. If they find so-called "fakes" or calls for anti-war actions, the materials are sent to the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation, from where site owners and providers are sent demands to remove the content, and otherwise threatened with blocking.


Slide explaining the scheme of information processing in Ukraine. The presentation document is taken from the hacked server of the General Radio Frequency Centre.
Slide explaining the scheme of information processing in Ukraine. The presentation document is taken from the hacked server of the General Radio Frequency Centre.

In addition, administrative and criminal proceedings are initiated against the most dangerous, from the regime's point of view, commentators.

 

Is it possible to avoid surveillance with Brand Analytics?

Since Brand Analytics automatically collects all comments, posts, videos and articles on certain topics, your statements may well end up in its reports. However, you can avoid being de-anonymised by following some simple guidelines. We will write about this topic in detail in a separate article.


Thank you for your attention. Glory to Ukraine! Long live Belarus! ✌️

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