Before the EU-wide ban, RT France had secured a niche audience that included protestors and conspiracists– and many from the Yellow Jackets movement, who were often regularly invited to speak on the channel. RT France and Sputnik became trusted media sources for these communities, and now alt-media seekers are on the search for something new.
ISD France led an investigation into online discussion around the ban and found a total of 99,000 tweets from 37,000 accounts, corresponding to a 1659% increase in the volume of discussion of RT France and Sputnik compared to the previous month, disclose ISD analysts Zoé Fourel and Sasha Morinière in an article for Le Figaro. The majority of these posts opposed the EU decision and denounced “censorship” by the government– a recycled use of a narrative that was used during the pandemic. Some posts went a step forward and advised subscribers on how to circumvent the ban, or called on the public to use alternative platforms like Gab or VKontakt (the Russian-style of Facebook).
While there are no clear indications of a mass social media exodus, the RT France website is updated daily, likely with the intention of reaching French-speakers in Africa, where Burkina Faso makes up their fourth largest audience.