During the period of April – May 2020 we continued to monitor following Lithuanian mainstream news websites 15min.lt, Delfi.lt, Lrytas.lt, Delfi.ru, Alfa.lt, and the fringe news website ekspertai.eu. News websites published in total 13814 articles, which generated 81610[1] comments.

Quantitative data: number of articles, comments, other. April – May 2020

Media number_of_articles number_of_comments number_of_ips
Delfi.lt 3552 0 (cannot crawl comments) 0 (cannot crawl comments)
15min 4280 8681 3834
lrytas 2849 65045 1
Ru.Delfi 1516 0 (cannot crawl comments) 0 (cannot crawl comments)
Alfa 1140 0 0
ekspertai 477 7884 1748
Total 13 814 81 610 5583

Compare to the previous period: February – March  2020

Media outlet/Website Number_of_Articles Number_of_Comments number_of_ips
Delfi.lt 3409 0 (cannot crawl comments) 0 (cannot crawl comments)
15min.lt 3955 11444 4929
Lrytas.lt 3000 75527 1
Ru. Delfi 1532 0 (cannot crawl comments) 0 (cannot crawl comments)
Alfa.lt 1200 0 0
Ekspertai.eu 479 8939 1678
Total 13575 95910 6608

 

 Number of Articles and Comments during April – May

 

April 2020

 May 2020

Note.

Delfi.lt is the largest news website in Lithuania by the number of unique users and the time spent on the website, and generating comments. However, due to the changed structure of Delfi.lt website we still are not able to crawl the comments of the website.

The quantitative trend of articles, comments and IPs remain unchanged: articles published in/by Delfi.lt receives the largest amount of comments according to Delfi (although we do not have the possibility to check this information as Delfi does not share this figure).   On the other hand,  15min.lt published the largest number of articles. It should be noted, that the Lithuanian public who looks for the quality information, appreciate 15min.lt website more than the media market leader Delfi,  as 15min is of a higher quality media website and quality reports, articles proportionality make the bigger part, with less a click-bite material or misleading headlines (differently from Delfi.lt or Lrytas.lt.) In addition, 15min.lt has a strong investigative journalism section significantly contributing to the media quality. The website 15min is preferred by intellectual readers of Lithuania.

During the monitoring period 15min.lt received eight times fewer comments than Lrytas.lt, which is the 3rd by the number of unique/real users and share of time spent on the website (see data at the end of the report).  15min website has the policy of commentators’ registration.  The policy ensures the quality of comments and impedes readers from spamming.

According to the data available, Lrytas.lt website is the second by number of comments generated during the period, although according to the number of articles, it is in the third position.

During the period of monitoring all comments are texts (written), no visuals, emoji’s or audio-videos.

The monitored period covers the Covid 19 lockdown. As one could expect, prevailing majority of articles are about the news related to the Covid 19.

 

Topics and themes of comments, April – May

 

I. During the monitored period the topic (article) that generated the largest number of comments (937) was the death of the policeman who was shot down during his encounter with an drunken aggressive person in the rural area. The policeman came the house after they received a call for help from the aggressor’s wife, and the policemen was gun down. The comments about the tragedy concentrated on two themes: (i) the policemen’s working conditions, quality of equipment and the security of policemen; also the shortcomings of administrative procedures within the police structures. (ii) the consequences of the Covid 19 lockdown – the social exclusion and moral panic among socially deprived/underprivileged families, households in the geographically remote areas of Lithuania. Social exclusion became even deeper/sharper during the lockdown period, and yielded/opened social problems in the society. The state is/was not ready to handle the issues among the society, making the social exclusion experience even worse, and causing the moral panic.

 

The moral panic issue is extremely topical and urgent among the regional and rural population, especially in the geographically remote areas of Lithuania. As the self-isolation and quarantine in Lithuania continued for almost seven weeks, people in rural areas may feel marginalized, with no jobs and income,  and socially excluded.

The Lithuanian population in regions and especially in rural areas experience social exclusion in general, which grows even higher combined with the moral panic during the COVID-19 crisis. The information environment was full of news about the shortage of medical equipment, the growing number of infected medical staff, doctors infecting patients and mismanagement in the health care sector. In addition, the news coverage on slowing down businesses and people losing their jobs and income, that the country has to borrow huge sums to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, un cooperation of NATO and other EU member states, the US not showing solidarity with Europe, etc. These topics circulated among comments as well.

The living conditions, social status, loss of any income, dominance of news reporting about problems create the impression of insecurity and absence of any positive future, possibility to solve difficulties – the society becomes even more vulnerable to disinformation and manipulation.

 

II. Covid 19 topic dominated the news flow and comments circled around the lockdown rules, whether they are justified, or whether everyone can afford to keep to the rules; loss of income, business failures; restriction in travelling, wearing masks as well the time when the lockdown could be eased. Some comments were focused on arguing with other commentators without much of the substance.

III. WWII , Victory Day celebration.

The news about Russia postponing Victory Day (May 9) celebration provoked a discussion about Lithuania’s past, and Lithuanians collaborating with Nazis and later with the Soviets. Commentators argued, that Lithuanians are collaborators and traitors.

Another theme that circulated in comments was that Russia liberated Lithuania from Nazis, and that the West (USA, UK) did not bother about Lithuania, they were  preoccupied liberating France and other West European countries.

One more topic was about the removal of the monument of Marshal Konev from Prague.  It raised the WWII topic that Russia liberated Lithuania and Europe from Nazis.

Commentators carried out an extensive discussion about the WWII Eastern  frontline. Few commentators told stories about Russian soldiers’ cruel behavior with civilians. Other disputed the reason of Nazis Germany being defeated on the Eastern flank/frontline.

The tone of comments was prevailingly peaceful, the language polite and of good quality (style and grammar), exchange of thoughts were not aggressive (except very few), except with few  cases when commentators just cursed; were very rude.

IV. Worth noting that disinformation topics and stories that circulated in social media (malign accounts) were not identified/found among comments of the mainstream media.

Disinformation and conspiracies have been more rampant online, especially in Facebook groups where many COVID 19 related groups are overrun with disinformation.

A lot of problematic content was originating from Russia and were more intensive in social media.

There are local actors, conspiracy supporters, alternative medicine peddlers, also a few local fringe politicians, who were translating and disseminating this problematic content in Lithuania in social media.

Following malign themes and topics circulated:

  • COVID-19 is an artificially created virus;
  • COVID-19 virus does not exist and is simply the easiest way for the authorities to purposefully intimidate the population;
  • COVID-19 virus was funded by pharmaceutical companies, backed by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, who seeks to profit from mass vaccination and human „chipping.“
  • COVID-19 is the Deep State incited pandemic

Other hostile topics:

  • EU is dysfunctioning;
  • NATO is useless and not to be trusted; In addition, NATO troops in Lithuania spread COVID19
  • Western sanctions should be suspended because of the COVID19;
  • Baltics economies are going to collapse;
  • China is not responsible for the spread of COVID19.
  • COVID1 will make Baltic economies turn back to Russia and invite China;
  • Baltics quarrel with their allies (reference of Poland closing their border and blocking the road to Lithuania)

 Top 30 most commented articles in April – May

Note. Titles of articles are quoted in Lithuanian

Article Title media number_of_comments published_date
Mažeikių r. pareigūnai pasitikti šūvių kruša: nušautas policininkas, jo porininkė sužeista lrytas 937 2020-05-29T10:44:00.000+03:00
Lietuvoje per parą užfiksavo net 90 naujų atvejų, 52 iš jų – Nemenčinėje lrytas 654 2020-04-18T09:10:00.000+03:00
D. Bunkus apie skyrybas su V. Siegel: „Ji pasirinko turėti santykius su mano artimiausiu draugu“ lrytas 643 2020-06-03T09:32:00.000+03:00
G. Nausėda: pikčiausias mūsų priešas yra ne karūnuotasis virusas lrytas 551 2020-04-12T08:30:00.000+03:00
Verslininkė Inga Stumbrienė atskleidė dailių kojų receptą lrytas 546 2020-05-10T11:19:10.000+03:00
Seimas sprendžia dėl 200 eurų išmokos: kaltinimai korupcija ir neveiksmingumu lrytas 540 2020-05-07T11:03:00.000+03:00
Lietuvoje – 34 koronaviruso auka lrytas 451 2020-04-19T09:20:00.000+03:00
Jauna moteris skundžiasi, kad buvo nubausta miške dėl kaukės – policija turi paaiškinimą lrytas 450 2020-04-27T11:53:00.000+03:00
Turtuolio R. Karpavičiaus palikimo drama: kokią paslaptį žinojo jo pusbrolis, miręs nuo koronaviruso? lrytas 416 2020-05-10T07:52:00.000+03:00
Koronavirusą iš slidinėjimo parsivežęs garsus Vilniaus medikas: „Po kelionės juokai baigėsi“ lrytas 410 2020-04-10T21:29:00.000+03:00
Prokuratūra apie sulaikymą: žala galėjo būti padaryta visai valstybei, padidėti mokestinė prievolė visiems piliečiams lrytas 409 2020-06-02T10:32:00.000+03:00
Naikintuvams skrodžiant dangų V. Putinas kreipėsi į žmones: „Milijonai nepamatė savo pergalės svajonės“ lrytas 399 2020-05-09T09:48:00.000+03:00
Po aštraus L. Andriulio pareiškimo medikams – A. Tapino ir kitų žinomų žmonių kirtis jam lrytas 389 2020-04-09T11:33:00.000+03:00
Apie karantino pratęsimą užsiminęs S. Skvernelis: parengta strategija, kaip gyvensime artimiausius kelerius metus lrytas 361 2020-05-05T10:11:00.000+03:00
Paaiškino, kaip dvi visuomenės grupės gyvens dar pora metų po karantino: kasdienybė pasikeis neišvengiamai lrytas 358 2020-05-07T10:59:00.000+03:00
Vyriausybė spręs dėl naujų karantino švelninimų: keistųsi kaukių dėvėjimo sąlygos ir restoranų bei mokyklų veikla lrytas 349 2020-05-13T11:25:00.000+03:00
Prokuratūra kreipėsi į teismą dėl V. Sutkaus suėmimo, M. Zalatorius paleistas į laisvę lrytas 333 2020-06-03T09:55:00.000+03:00
Dvigubą išdavystę patyręs D. Bunkus: „Maldavau jos neišeiti, negriauti visko, ką sukūrėm per 4 metus“ lrytas 325 2020-06-05T08:43:00.000+03:00
Policija tikrina įvažiuojančius: neįleisti į Vilnių keliavo pavalgyti ir aplankyti mamos, kiti – apsisuko patys lrytas 318 2020-04-10T19:59:00.000+03:00
Švedijoje gyvenanti lietuvė: „Medikai perorientuoti ne į krizės, o katastrofos režimą“ lrytas 317 2020-04-17T10:42:00.000+03:00
Vyriausybė siūlo karantiną pratęsti iki balandžio 27 dienos, patekimą į savivaldybes nori riboti nuo penktadienio lrytas 302 2020-04-08T10:18:00.000+03:00
V. Landsbergis apie Astravą ir Kremlių: „Tai grėsmė ir bausmė tuo pačiu metu“ lrytas 302 2020-04-29T10:45:00.000+03:00
23 metais jaunesnė Andriaus Užkalnio mylimoji prabilo apie santykius: „Šimtą kartų sakiau, kad skiriuosi“ lrytas 298 2020-05-22T11:57:00.000+03:00
Birutė Navickaitė Velykas sutiks be dukters ir be darbo lrytas 294 2020-04-11T09:36:58.000+03:00
JAV surinko pakankamai įrodymų: Kinija kaltinama tyčia nuslėpus koronaviruso grėsmę lrytas 292 2020-05-04T11:39:00.000+03:00
Tūkstančiai lietuvių dar ir dabar taip gyvena – su vienodais baldais ir daiktais namuose lrytas 278 2020-04-25T20:39:00.000+03:00
Šiauliuose nuo koronaviruso miręs vyras pas gydytojus nesilankė 30 metų, skundėsi psichikos sutrikimais lrytas 272 2020-04-10T10:17:00.000+03:00
Iš Vyriausybės – perspėjimas apsipirkti susiruošusiems vyresnio amžiaus asmenims lrytas 265 2020-04-20T10:14:00.000+03:00
Policija nustatė vyrą, Vilniaus centre užsipuolusį ir iškeikusį Anušauskų šeimą lrytas 256 2020-04-28T10:04:00.000+03:00

 

Monitoring of the most reacted (positive/negative) comments

Most reacted comments were related the pulp fiction topic: failing marriage of influencers (she left him and went to live with another man). Also,  the comment about the death of the policeman while he was on duty received lot of “likes” and “dislikes”.

The most active IPs during April and May

The tendency remains the same: the most active commentators (IPs) were of the fringe website ekspertai.eu. The most of comments were generated in Lithuania: Vilnius, Kaunas and Siauliai;  two IP addresses are registered in Dublin, Ireland, one IP from Moscow, Russia;  See table below. The full list of IPs can be provided upon the request.

ip_address number_of_comments number_of_portals city country portals
78.56.37.190 268 1 Vilnius Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
78.63.212.238 186 1 Vilnius Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
78.61.0.42 158 1 Vilnius Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
78.63.162.242 155 1 Panevezys Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
78.62.207.16 140 1 Kaunas Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
87.198.117.55 127 1 Dublin Ireland ekspertai
188.69.210.73 125 1 Vilnius Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
78.63.229.198 121 1 Kaunas Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
78.63.201.190 114 1 Kaunas Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
84.15.34.15 109 1 Kaunas Republic of Lithuania 15min
78.56.75.110 107 1 Vilnius Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
37.228.251.228 106 1 Dublin Ireland ekspertai
188.123.231.64 88 1 Moscow Russia ekspertai
37.228.254.112 83 1 Dublin Ireland ekspertai
62.80.225.75 82 1 Šiauliai Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
88.223.147.41 80 1 Vilnius Republic of Lithuania 15min
78.58.225.231 78 1 Vilnius Republic of Lithuania ekspertai
78.62.147.165 69 1 Kaunas Republic of Lithuania 15min
78.62.55.176 68 1 Prienai Republic of Lithuania ekspertai

 

Miscellaneous

April and May look a little bit different than the first month of quarantine (lockdown), although many people still spend time at home. The main difference is that less news is read, but there is a growing interest in entertainment content. Please compare the internet timeshare spent in the news websites during the current the previous periods.

Internet                                                  Time share-Internet 06/06/2020

1. Delfi 24.33%
2. 15min 11.73%
3. Lrytas 11.62%

Source: Lithuania, Gemius S.A.06.06.2020

 

Time share-Internet Real users Page views Visits
Internet 100% 1 433 217 53 203 588 9 911 590
Delfi 29.31% 916 906 11 504 022 2 592 090
15min 12.52% 593 122 4 776 803 1 273 106
Lrytas 12.12% 471 671 6 331 188 1 190 764
TV3 5.50% 401 738 1 925 036 744 566
LRT 5.71% 346 253 1 133 959 517 63
Lnk.lt 2.16% 31 760 173 024 42 180
Diena.lt 1.23% 196 239 714 547 263 371

Source: Lithuania, Gemius S.A.: gemius Audience, 2020-04-02

[1] Number of comments changes as it’s online