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Ok, Boomer - Digital Threat Digest

PGI’s Digital Investigations Team brings you the Digital Threat Digest, SOCMINT and OSINT insights into disinformation, influence operations, and online harms.


According to the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing (because of course there’s an Oxford Institute of Population Ageing), 70% of voters in the 2019 European Union parliamentary elections were 40 years old or above. While data is not yet available for the upcoming June 2024 elections, it’s almost certainly gone up a bit.

Europe's ageing electorate makes for an interesting case study in how demographics affect influence operations seeking to disrupt an election or 28. Interestingly enough, the Kremlin and its complex disinformation ecosystem have clearly understood that. Take Italy as an example. The country's past affinities with the Communist Party and its role at the edge of the Iron Curtain have left a long-standing legacy of sympathy towards Russia at both popular and political level. While Giorgia Meloni's Fratelli d'Italia have obediently followed the EU foreign policy guidelines vis-a-vis Moscow, the same cannot be said for Lega and other minor Eurosceptic and NATO-sceptic parties. As the latter continue to grow more vocal, the Kremlin has tried to use self-described Gen Z politicians of the likes of Amadeo Avondet as conduits for Russian propaganda. The few Italians reading this piece will likely point out that Avondet and his newspaper, Il Corrispondente, have hardly risen to fame in the domestic information environment. Is it his sorely inexistent charisma? Is it poor branding? Or is a generational issue?

While we cannot know for sure what the Kremlin thinks of their young Italian friend, it seems Moscow is also targeting other age groups. Over the last few months, Russian officials have invited a series of what can only be described as former C-list celebrities, including Pupo and Ornella Muti, to visit Moscow and the occupied territories in Ukraine and meet with officials. These individuals have acted as mouthpieces for the Kremlin, appearing in TV talk shows and being quoted in press articles. Though boosted by some adversarial coverage, their visits still made headlines in Italy and continue to dominate the public debate. In short, it seems the Kremlin has chosen to cover all of its bases, boosting offline propaganda and disinformation via traditional media to capture the hearts and possibly the vote of Italy's main electorate, the boomers.

Two months away from the elections, we are yet to see the bulk of the Kremlin's interference tactics. However, keep in mind that Russian narratives we do see will be segmented, altered to match the emotions and identities of different age groups. So don’t forget to call your grandma and ask whether she has heard anything interesting recently on TV or on Facebook. Because they are as interested in influencing her as they are in targeting you.

More about Protection Group International's Digital Investigations

Our Digital Investigations Analysts combine modern exploitative technology with deep human analytical expertise that covers the social media platforms themselves and the behaviours and the intents of those who use them. Our experienced analyst team have a deep understanding of how various threat groups use social media and follow a three-pronged approach focused on content, behaviour and infrastructure to assess and substantiate threat landscapes.

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