Disinformation on Telegram in the Czech Republic: Organizational and Financial Background

Natália Tkáčová, Prague Security Studies Institute / 23 Jan 2024

In the evolving landscape of the Czech disinformation space, the organizational and financial dimensions of disinformation actors have emerged as critical yet underexplored facets. Traditional approaches to combating disinformation have predominantly focused on media monitoring and analysis, leaving a void in understanding how these actors operate, collaborate, and sustain their activities financially. This knowledge is pivotal in devising effective policies and civic outreach initiatives aimed at mitigating the adverse societal impacts of disinformation.
Within this field, the messaging application Telegram has become a hotbed for disseminating disinformation and conspiracy theories. It operates in a relatively unregulated space, facilitating the formation of potentially radicalized communities and serving as a fundraising platform for disinformation actors. Beyond the challenges posed by the lack of regulation, Telegram introduces issues of strengthened echo chambers, non-transparency, and an increased potential for radicalization and hostile state information operations.
Telegram, in essence, remains a black box, a platform where the mechanics of the disinformation ecosystem are not well understood. This report explores the disinformation landscape of Telegram within the context of the Czech Republic, delving into the types of actors, their organizational structures, and financial background, shedding light on their operational methods and funding sources. Additionally, it scrutinizes their cross-platform presence, discerning whether actors exclusively utilize Telegram or extend their reach to other platforms.
Furthermore, the report explores the collaborative dynamics among Telegram actors, examining whether they operate independently or engage in partnerships.