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Hackers disclose how Russia employs professional internet shills
June 2, 2014 5:47 PM   Subscribe

How Russia’s Troll Army Hit America. The documents show instructions provided to the commenters that detail the workload expected of them. On an average working day, the Russians are to post on news articles 50 times. Each blogger is to maintain six Facebook accounts publishing at least three posts a day and discussing the news in groups at least twice a day. By the end of the first month, they are expected to have won 500 subscribers and get at least five posts on each item a day. On Twitter, the bloggers are expected to manage 10 accounts with up to 2,000 followers and tweet 50 times a day.
posted by shivohum (39 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
In Soviet Russia, Trolls Internet You!
posted by eriko at 5:50 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


Shouldn't this be in listicle form?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:53 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]


Couldn't they have spent the $5 to try to propagandize us? I feel kinda rejected.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 5:54 PM on June 2 [8 favorites]


I've definitely seen some shills on Euronews Facebook posts, that's for sure. You'd think Romney moved to Russia or something, I swear.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:54 PM on June 2


Pattern Recognition was a warning, not a how-to guide!
posted by b1tr0t at 5:56 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


GAH. Propaganda != trolling.
posted by Etrigan at 5:56 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


GAH. Propaganda != trolling.

Yeah, but "In Soviet Russia, Propaganda Internets You!" isn't nearly as funny.
posted by eriko at 5:59 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]




I'm guessing there will soon be an influx of trolls in the gulag.
posted by sammyo at 6:20 PM on June 2


How the Kremlin is killing off the last of Russia’s independent media

Remember the 90s, when it seemed like democracy and freedom of information were winning? Man, do I feel like a sucker now.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:22 PM on June 2 [21 favorites]


I'm guessing there will soon be an influx of trolls in the gulag.



Is that what they're calling Digg now?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 6:23 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


It would be more surprising if most of the major powers were not also doing the same thing.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:26 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Horace Rumpole: "How the Kremlin is killing off the last of Russia’s independent media

Remember the 90s, when it seemed like democracy and freedom of information were winning
"

"Right then, right there, there was no other place I'd rather be.
...
Watching the world wake up for 2 seconds and then hit the snooze to go back to history..."
posted by symbioid at 6:27 PM on June 2 [11 favorites]


Shouldn't this be in listicle form?

Seven Kremlin Media Tactics That Will Make You Angry And Confused While You Also Laugh

1. [A picture of Vladimir Putin holding an iPhone on a snowmobile]

2. [A picture of a wise old bear reading the iTunes privacy policy]

3. [A picture of a surprised-looking Russian guy sitting on outdoor toilet in the middle of a snowy forest, pants around ankles, holding a half-empty bottle of vodka in one hand and busted-ass Android phone in the other. A bird is nesting in his hat.]

4. [Animated GIF of angry dude yelling at blue screen of death before dumping hot borscht all over the keyboard]

5. [Screenshot of Wikipedia article for Ukraine, vandalized to say "PWNED!" over and over again]

6. [Animated GIF of former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller opening up a series of Russian nesting dolls and then a wolf jumps out and bites his hand]

7. [Image macro of Nikita Khrushchev pounding his shoe on the table; text says "WE WILL TROLL YOU"]
posted by compartment at 6:31 PM on June 2 [27 favorites]


I think basically the entirety of the right wing troll oeuvre doubles quite neatly as anti-Western propaganda from the Russian perspective. I mean, the KGB successor du jour looks at the current state of affairs and must say we've got the guys who are in power in the government that crushed* our empire a few decades ago and they're talking about drowning it in a bathtub? Are you serious?! Tell me it doesn't make them weep with fucking joy to turn on Fox News and see us eating ourselves alive with retrograde bullshit. Of course they're going to do everything they can to blow the "American government can't do anything right" horn!

* For whatever value of "crush" you want to bring to the table.
posted by feloniousmonk at 6:37 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


This is like Cory Doctorow levels of internetting.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:49 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


But the American government didn't crush their empire, their economy was in decline, too dependent on fossil fuels, and they had the temerity to occupy Afghanistan! Oh wait

Actually an excellent theory about right wing trolls that I will be sowing. Too sweet, and their spittled replies will be brushed off as proof of complicity like any good conspiracy.
posted by aydeejones at 7:15 PM on June 2


A few years ago there was a sudden influx of American right-wing trolls on the Guardian UK website that only seemed to horrify the locals and confirm all their worst fears about Americans. I couldn't figure out what the hell they thought they were doing there.
posted by maggiemaggie at 8:07 PM on June 2


The archetypes for the accounts are called Handkerchief, Gay Turtle, The Ghost of Marius the Giraffe, Left Breast, Black Breast, and Ass, for reasons that are not immediately clear.

Oh. Okay.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:34 PM on June 2


I don't know about 'exposed for the first time' - Google translate of Novaya Gazeta story.
posted by unliteral at 8:36 PM on June 2


The archetypes for the accounts are called Handkerchief, Gay Turtle, The Ghost of Marius the Giraffe, Left Breast, Black Breast, and Ass, for reasons that are not immediately clear.

It must be working, because already I want to hang out with The Ghost of Marius the Giraffe and Gay Turtle.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:51 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]


These guys were out in full force in the comment sections of the Globe & Mail during the early stages of Russia's strange, parasitic invasion of eastern Ukraine.
posted by Flashman at 9:15 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


That job description made me tired. That's a lot of social media-ing.


I would not make a good troll.
posted by sio42 at 9:16 PM on June 2


I can't believe that Jessamyn was a KGB mole. Mind blown.
posted by humanfont at 9:38 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]


I guess that explains all those "kill moose and squirrel" blogs.
posted by whir at 10:18 PM on June 2 [6 favorites]


One of my greatest fears is that a certain faction of commenters at NPR.org aren't paid by the Kremlin (or Koch brothers for that matter).
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 10:38 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


Was disappointed that the trolls were the internet type not the bridge type.
posted by vorpal bunny at 10:40 PM on June 2


Of course there are troll armies. Just as many of these trolls pretend to be journalists. They get paid to write shit and throw it at others. There is no more legitimacy to most of what you read in the news than a comment from The Ghost of Marius the Giraffe.

Anyway, I don't think the wack names and lack of subtlety in this type of trolling is an indication of Russian naïvety. Other states and NGOs have pioneered the techniques of sock-puppetry and have operations that are so far advanced that I suspect Russia is trolling as a form of asymetric cyber warfare. The Russians are trolling trolls and they want everyone to know it.

If you think it is all one way traffic, try reading RT.com comments. It's not like the Russians would shit all over their own messaging and yet the comment section is a complete sewer and most of the comments look auto-generated by an AI trying to win a Trollitzer prize.
posted by vicx at 11:18 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: an AI trying to win a Trollitzer prize.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:37 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


On an average working day, the Russians are to post on news articles 50 times. Each blogger is to maintain six Facebook accounts publishing at least three posts a day and discussing the news in groups at least twice a day.

Man, Gawker is really out of control.
posted by Zed at 1:04 AM on June 3


Linked in the TFA is this interesting piece from the Guardian on the orchestrated pro-Putin sock puppetry infesting the comments section of pretty much every Ukraine story that goes up there. As a regular on the Guardian boards, I've thought for a long time that this had to have been an organised campaign, so it's nice to have some form of confirmation. But the scale, degree of unsubtlety employed, and downright gall of the whole thing is still gobsmacking.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:35 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure I've seen this on Reddit, in the wake of the Crimea invasion. Massive downvotes for anyone slightly critical of Putin. Upvotes for what the moderate, yet firm Putin was forced to do because of radical Russia haters in charge in Ukraine, etc., etc.
posted by atchafalaya at 5:19 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


The comments on any Russian piece in the Guardian are hilarious. I can't get my head round that fact it's some organised thing because it is just so jaw-droppingly badly done. Obvious sock puppet is, well, obvious.
posted by fatfrank at 5:33 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


Putin on the Ritz
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:01 AM on June 3


From the Guardian piece Sonny Jim links to above:

"... the quantity of pro-Kremlin trolling on this topic … which has been documented extensively since 2012 as a real and insidious threat to online communities of idea and debate, has rendered commenting on these articles all but meaningless, and a worthless exercise in futility and frustration for anyone not already being mind-controlled by the Kremlin."

Right. Because prior to this, comments on Internet news sites were the Agora of modern civilization.
posted by Naberius at 6:40 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]


The perfect is the enemy of the good. And the strawman is the friend of the reflexive snark emitter.
posted by aydeejones at 7:50 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]


I was just wailing on this in another thread pretty recently, but jesus christ troll doesn't mean anything anymore.
posted by emptythought at 6:32 PM on June 3


My favorite Kremlin troll (propagandist) is @wavetossed
posted by Golden Eternity at 12:14 AM on June 4


I love gold hotpants. Just sayin.
posted by vicx at 1:59 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]


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