#NAFO has its critics, even among opponents of Russia’s war against Ukraine, who accuse the fellas of sometimes going too far in trolling Russia, pointing to recent posts mocking a young Russian tourist who was killed by a shark in Egypt.
But #NAFO has no editors or censors. It’s young and brash, self-aware, and epitomizes the way young people communicate today. The Russian government and its propagandists often have a tin ear when it comes to humor, which the “NAFOFellas” are only too happy to exploit.
While I can appreciate the value in crowding out inane imperialist propaganda with similar inanity, — tho e’en if it arguably contributes to further deterioration o’ good-faith argument, I’m too realistic to believe that good-faith argument is possible in the zoos o’ social media — these 2 paragraphs stood out to me. This article admits that NAFO is engaging in racist attacks gainst an innocent civilian, then just immediately wipes that concern ’way with a, “But that’s just the hip young people not giving into your censorship, bro. Only propagandists have a problem with racist hatred”, ironically feeding into 4chan sentiment that racism is rebellious. I wonder if CNN would take this sentiment when commenting on young people posting memes ’bout Israel. ¿Is it only the Israeli government who has a “tin ear” when it comes to certain kinds o” “humor” that certain propaganda groups are happy to exploit”? That’s the danger o’ borrowing tactics from the far-right: while it can in many ways be mo’ effective than what the left is doing, in some ways it’s intrinsically tied to right-wing ideas like racism.
@ the very least, perhaps a stuffy, pseudointellectual institution most definitely not aimed @ young people like CNN shouldn’t be praising this kind o’ irrationality, specially when bugging me to sign up for a subscription. A’least the college dropouts @ NAFO aren’t pretending their memes are worth money ( well, maybe ).
But, then ’gain, I can’t pretend to be surprised that an institution as mentally mediocre as CNN would trade these long-term issues o’ feeding racism & global division ( which, now that I think ’bout it, CNN probably likes the global division part ) for the quick hit o’ getting their readers on the right side o’ things. Lord knows, it’s hard to get the kind o’ people who still read newspapers to not support Russia — & it’s totally a reasonable goal to obsessively try to get e’ery single person on the planet to agree with your sentiment when there are people who still insist that the world is flat, climate change is fake, & the world was created 6,000 years ago by sky god who is his own son — so it’s important that we encourage young people to be 4channers so we can get that extra 1% o’ people putting Ukraine flags on their social media & doing shit-all-else. The good news is, since no young people read CNN, CNN won’t have any real effect: CNN’s mummified readers will snort ’bout those wacky young people & their beepboops & forget all ’bout.
I also love how so many psuedointellectuals are trying to pump up this random group o’ people screwing round with poorly-paid Russians who probably couldn’t give a rats ass what inane drivel their bosses force them to spew out — if it’s not AI — as if it’s some deep sociological phenomenon.
NAFO was described as a “Western civil society response to Russian campaigns” by Tobias Fella, a political scientist training Bundeswehr soldiers in dealing with social media. It is part of a larger “battle for sovereignty of interpretation” on shared online spaces. According to Politico, “To delve into NAFO is to get a crash course in how online communities from the Islamic State to the far-right boogaloo movement to this rag-tag band of online warriors have weaponized internet culture.”
American media studies professor Jaime Cohen argues that the NAFO movement “is an actual tactical event against a nation state”. British-Lebanese journalist Oz Katerji asserts that NAFO “has hampered Russia’s propagandists and made them look absurd and ridiculous in the process”. Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia and New Zealand Vasyl Myroshnychenko noted that the grassroots, decentralized nature of NAFO is an important part of its strength.
According to one analysis, “The largely English-language memes have kept Western attention on Ukraine’s war—attention that is vital given the importance of Western arms to Ukrainian forces.” American Lt. Col. Steve Speece of the Modern War Institute at West Point argues “Meme content shared in NAFO channels … is almost exclusively English language and presumably not intended for Russian audiences … These fora exist to generate content for the entertainment and status of their own members. Yet even Western national security policy is sometimes explicitly driven by the emotions—like outrage—cultivated in online communities.” Speece argues that online agitators like NAFO take the role of bad cop in a good cop/bad cop dynamic with policy makers.
According to the Berliner Kurier, “Like real NATO, NAFO has an Article 5 duty of assistance. This means that each fella can call on the others for help if they are under attack or encounter serious disinformation. For this, the NAFO members use the hashtag #NAFOarticle5 and then receive support from other fellas.” An analyst at the German Council on Foreign Relations assessed it as being “very effective”.
Yes, I’m sure a bunch o’ randos shitposting to Russian bots is what will save Ukraine, not the fact that Russia’s faltering economy & tin-can military. That’s the dream for pseudointellectuals who pretend that e’ery time they like something on Twitter X they’re fighting the system. I think my own blog is already proof that this tactic doesn’t work: if it did, all my shitposting ’bout capitalism & its cousin wearing a moustache named dapitalism & Zombie Marx from the past decade would’ve brought us sexy communism already, & I sure as shit don’t see any sexy communism in my midst. Nope, it’s all ugly-ass brutalist architecture on 1 side o’ the curtain & pretend copyrights for ugly monkey pictures on the other. O yeah, & CNN.