-- KamilaKoronska - 30 Aug 2023


Multi-layered Structure of Narratives relating to Ukrainian Refugees on Polish Telegram

Team Members

Maria Lompe, Kamila Koronska, Richard Rogers, Aleksy Szymkiewicz, Alexandre Delanoë


1. Abstract

The project's goal is to chart troubling portrayals of Ukrainian refugees from the start of the new phase of the Russo-Ukrainian war that commenced in February 2022. In this context, "problematic narratives" denote persuasive campaigns, whether organised or naturally emerging, that depict Ukrainian refugees as a "problem" for their host countries. These narratives label Ukrainians as extremist, perilous, economically opportunistic, corrupt, disease-ridden, or manipulated by Western powers. Such narratives wield influence, often supporting specific political stances that challenge support for the refugees in their host countries. In such instances, they merge into the ongoing "political campaigning" of existing political parties and movements. Our aim is to identify these narratives, expose their nature, and provide them to experts in verification—such as journalists, fact-checkers, disinformation researchers, human rights activists, and educators. These experts typically address individual posts, producing fact-checks or discredits for each piece. Nevertheless, these singular accounts can be vital to broader narratives as described earlier. We also like to explore their resonance and durability, delving into which narratives endure, perhaps by being “reshaped”, despite efforts to counter or debunk them.

2. Initial data sets

Our Initial Data Set contained 226,777 telegram messages from 22 Telegram channels.

List of Telegram Channels that were scraped by Telegram API:

Teleegram Channels
1. Zbrodnie, Polityka, Afery Kanał informacyjny 🐸KJU🐸
2. Ruch Oporu 12 .💫Awakening Process💫 🧘‍♀️Proces budzenia 🧘‍♂️
3. Ucho od śledzia 13. ❤️Anielskie Siostry Jasnowidzki©
4. Ktoś 14. Sokółka Niezależna
5. Оlej w Głowie 15. NajNewsy - Archiwum transformacji 🌍 3 Wojna Światowa
6. Świadomi 🦉 16. Ukraina w Ogniu Total
7. Sprawa dla Jarosława 17. News Front Polska Total
8. Ciężka Artyleria - kanał 18. STRAŻNICY WOLNOŚCI
9. Nasza Wolna Polska 🇵🇱❤️ 19. Pan Nikt
10. Ubojnia Polin 20. 𝐆𝐫𝐮𝐩𝐚𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐨𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚𝐏𝐨𝐳𝐢𝐨𝐦𝐮 _Kanał
11. Dostawcy Wrażeń 21. 🔞 Info War Polska 🇵🇱 Total

3. Research Questions

  1. What are the main problematic narratives about Ukrainian war refugees on Telegram?

  2. How are Ukrainians framed as a “problem” for their hostland audience?

  3. Can we distil larger narratives about Ukrainian war refugees?

  4. What narratives are linked together in the messages?

4. Methodology and initial datasets

We sourced the problematic Telegram channels using a snowballing technique, here appropriated for querying social-media with account names, rather than queries. To get an initial list of problematic channels, we used TGSTAT Analytics view to find channels ‘mentioning’ and ‘mentioned’ by an alternative news channel - @ndp_pl, that was recognised as problematic by Polish mainstream media and disinformation researchers.

Data collection, curation and visualization: First relying on news or other authoritative accounts of Telegram channels with problematic content about Ukrainian war refugees, we sourced additional channels by capturing their incoming and outgoing mentions using tgstat.com. With the Telegram API, we downloaded the channels’ posts from February, 2022 to July, 2023. We subsequently loaded those posts in Gargantext, the text mining and analysis software, in order to group the terms that significantly co-occur with the words ‘refugee’ and ‘refugees’. We then selected keywords for each cluster qualified by GarganText and asked the GPT chat to list narratives based on them.

5. Summary and findings