“Error 403: Identity Forbidden” is an analytical report on the prevailing conversation on social media regarding North Macedonia’s accesion to European Union and NATO membership.
Research conducted by Metamorphosis Foundation as part of IRI’s Beacon Project from November 2023 to January 2024 indicates that the issues of integration of North Macedonia in the European Union and NATO are among the most dominant political themes in the social media discourse. Majority of official posts by politicians and the media seem to favor narratives supporting the country’s European and North Atlantic strategic goals.
Despite the widespread trend favoring alignment with the European Union and NATO in the overall discourse, a closer examination of the comments on these posts reveals a distinct dynamic. The analysis indicates that, with a few positive exceptions, almost all the comments on the most popular Facebook posts regarding the Euro-Atlantic integration of the country in the first two quarters of 2023, were negative in nature even though the content of the posts was favorable to EU and NATO membership.
The contrary nature of comments not only featured criticisms of EU and NATO but also included pro-Russian messages. These comments aligned with the messages from actors who communicated opposition to EU and NATO integration. The prevalence of pro-Russian sentiments in the comments suggests the impact that these messaging strategies may have on readers. It indicates that the pro-Russian narrative is resonating with a portion of the audience influencing their perspectives.
The content promoted through the comments is mostly suggesting that the EU integration of the country, and its NATO membership mean that the Macedonians have lost their identity, and basically, they will seize to exist.