Russian Troll Houses

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
Russian bloggers are hired to spam forums and social media sites with pro-putin and anti-west rumours, disinformation and bunk. I've never heard of these until today. Although, in hindsight I really shouldn’t be surprised they exist.

How effective is the trolling? Consider the following from a former paid troll...

Instructions for the political posts would come in “technical tasks” that the trolls received each morning, while the non-political posts had to be thought up personally.

“The scariest thing is when you talk to your friends and they are repeating the same things you saw in the technical tasks, and you realise that all this is having an effect,” the former worker said.
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They also perpetrated hoaxes involving an accident at a chemical plant in Louisiana and an Ebola outbreak in Atlanta.

The Columbian Chemicals hoax was not some simple prank by a bored sadist. It was a highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention. The perpetrators didn’t just doctor screenshots from CNN; they also created fully functional clones of the websites of Louisiana TV stations and newspapers. The YouTube video of the man watching TV had been tailor-made for the project. A Wikipedia page was even created for the Columbian Chemicals disaster, which cited the fake YouTube video. As the virtual assault unfolded, it was complemented by text messages to actual residents in St. Mary Parish. It must have taken a team of programmers and content producers to pull off.

And the hoax was just one in a wave of similar attacks during the second half of last year. On Dec. 13, two months after a handful of Ebola cases in the United States touched off a minor media panic, many of the same Twitter accounts used to spread the Columbian Chemicals hoax began to post about an outbreak of Ebola in Atlanta.
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The lesson being that even though the media is quick to report on sensational stories, it's important to approach news with a good deal of scepticism; Always follow the golden rule: "Thou shalt always check thy sources!"

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/02/putin-kremlin-inside-russian-troll-house
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html?_r=0
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_brigades

Note: I'm not sure if this post fits this new forum, I'll leave it up to the mods. Cheers
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
LOL. I did a search that came up empty. Honest I did.

Oops... does this mean I'm about to get Rambled?


in the words of @Landru "You will be absorbed. Your individuality will merge into the unity of good, and in your submergence into the common being of the body" so...in other words- yes, rambles is probably in your future :D
 

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
Before posting I did read the Practical Debunking forum guide. I thought the post might fall under the Links to debunking resource guideline.

I guess it's fate is now in the hands of the gods... I mean mods.
 

vitorino

Member
They also perpetrated hoaxes involving an accident at a chemical plant in Louisiana and an Ebola outbreak in Atlanta.

Content from external source The Columbian Chemicals hoax was not some simple prank by a bored sadist. It was a highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention. The perpetrators didn’t just doctor screenshots from CNN; they also created fully functional clones of the websites of Louisiana TV stations and newspapers. The YouTube video of the man watching TV had been tailor-made for the project. A Wikipedia page was even created for the Columbian Chemicals disaster, which cited the fake YouTube video. As the virtual assault unfolded, it was complemented by text messages to actual residents in St. Mary Parish. It must have taken a team of programmers and content producers to pull off.

And the hoax was just one in a wave of similar attacks during the second half of last year. On Dec. 13, two months after a handful of Ebola cases in the United States touched off a minor media panic, many of the same Twitter accounts used to spread the Columbian Chemicals hoax began to post about an outbreak of Ebola in Atlanta.

I just saw something about similar phenomena:
https://www.metabunk.org/using-comedy-to-reverse-or-promote-bunk.t6361/#post-155885


About the testimonies, I can not contest them, but they do have a flavour of "being too good", almost-perfect, like written in a Daily Show office. Sure would like to see these people. Like the rules we can see here:


"first month, have 500 subscribers , get 5 posts a day"
"6 FB accounts, 3 posts a day"

There's also another former troll that filled a suit (a news report said?) but doesn't seem to have documentation:

The lesson being that even though the media is quick to report on sensational stories, it's important to approach news with a good deal of scepticism; Always follow the golden rule: "Thou shalt always check thy sources!"
I agree, we should approach this with skepticism
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
There's also another former troll that filled a suit (a news report said?) but doesn't seem to have documentation:

I believe that is Ludmila Savchuk...and if that is the case she does have documentation of the actual trolling. (perhaps you are referring to her employment documentation)

While employed there, she copied dozens of documents to her personal email account and also plied her co-workers for information. She made a clandestine video of the office. In February, she leaked it all to a reporter for Moi Raion, a local newspaper known for its independent reporting. The documents, together with her story, offered the most detailed look yet into the daily life of a pro-Kremlin troll.
Content from External Source
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
[/EX][/EX]
Russian bloggers are hired to spam forums and social media sites with pro-putin and anti-west rumours, disinformation and bunk. I've never heard of these until today. Although, in hindsight I really shouldn’t be surprised they exist.



The lesson being that even though the media is quick to report on sensational stories, it's important to approach news with a good deal of scepticism; Always follow the golden rule: "Thou shalt always check thy sources!"

It was a highly coordinated disinformation campaign, involving dozens of fake accounts that posted hundreds of tweets for hours, targeting a list of figures precisely chosen to generate maximum attention
Content from External Source
so.. i just searched the hashtag (#ColumbianChemicals) on twitter and it's silly. almost all russian. the same poor english with evey tweet having a different photo attached, and not that many tweets at all. Doesnt look real at all.

Do you think twitter banned most of the accounts? because right now it certainly doesnt look like a highly coordinated campaign. it looks like kids pulling a prank.

That whole article (NY Times) sounds wonky to me. Sounds like CT stuff, i didnt see any evidence. got bored reading after a few pages but he didnt see evidence of hundreds of employees leaving or entering the building. She sounds like [you know who]... where are these emails she grabbed? and the video. do you have a link?
 

vitorino

Member
I believe that is Ludmila Savchuk...and if that is the case she does have documentation of the actual trolling. (perhaps you are referring to her employment documentation)

While employed there, she copied dozens of documents to her personal email account and also plied her co-workers for information. She made a clandestine video of the office. In February, she leaked it all to a reporter for Moi Raion, a local newspaper known for its independent reporting. The documents, together with her story, offered the most detailed look yet into the daily life of a pro-Kremlin troll.
Content from External Source
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/07/magazine/the-agency.html

She sounds legit, it has links for the video she made (a bit strange) and the documents (in Russian)
The author has a history in exposing stuff from the internet


In October 2012, Chen exposed the real name and details ofViolentacrez (a moderator of severalRedditJailbaitcommunities), a Texas internet developer, who was subsequently fired from his job.[6]This led to all links to Gawker being temporarily banned from Reddit.
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and strange stories

In September 2012, Chen acquiesced to demands fromAnonymous and posted images of himself dressed in atutu with a shoe perched on his head. The images had been demanded in exchange for interviews regarding an alleged leak of AppleiPhone and iPad user data from an FBI laptop.
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They got the photo!

Works for Gawker where privacy (of other people) doesn't seem to be a concern
There's a lot of unsavory behavior from Gawker on its Wikipedia article.

The article is really long and reads like a spy novel, with staged mettings with a NeoNazi orchestrated to frame him and lauch suspicions about him on the russian media. This is the story published the next day (by a news agency, on the same building where the agency was supposed to be, and whose manager he had interviewed)

I don't know what to think anymore..
 
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vitorino

Member
That whole article (NY Times) sounds wonky to me. Sounds like CT stuff, i didnt see any evidence.
it sounds really strange. the issue here is that the article is written, it's well written (he's a good writer, I'll give him that), on the New York Times, he has the testimonies (the girl exists, I saw a video of her, but lost the link), all we can do is speculate and it's hard to dismiss a testimony.

I think most of the subsequent stories on other media used the same picture of the building.

He also doesn't follow through, like a journalist is supposed to do, when on a investigative work, like try to contact the management, or try to make sense of the documents (he had a translator with him) and go from there. He's mostly telling a story: him, meetings with strange people, snatched photos, adventures..

Also, there's some flowering strange stuff: she used to be an environmental activist in her home town


her main cause before the troll farm was saving forests and parks from being paved over by well-connected developers.
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Oh boy, she really lost her way
 
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Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
He's mostly telling a story: him, meetings with strange people, snatched photos, adventures..

Ya, I tend to agree. This is from the CBC interview that originally caught my attention. Not much meat.

The actual propaganda value of all of this seems pretty limited... (some speculate) this is just another venue for people to basically skim from the budget by creating these elaborate programs that don't really work but are very resource intensive and can funnel a lot of government contracts.
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http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/q/ID/2669171820/
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
[Mod: Off topic material removed]

I do not think attacking the authors credibility is the best way to determine if accusations of others regarding paid Russian Trolls are true.

Have you translated the documents?
 
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Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Just a reminder, Metabunk is for discussion of specific claims of evidence. Not trying to establish possible bias in order to discredit that evidence.
 

Trigger Hippie

Senior Member.
The first document in the list is interesting. It looks like a password file. A search on a random sampling of the usernames reveals that most had accounts on Livejournal.com and they tended to be critical of the Ukraine and the US.

A few of the other documents are profiles of entities that are critical of the Russian government.
 

Whitebeard

Senior Member.
Mass trolling isn't confined to Russia, A few years back in the run up to the Beijing Olympics I was discussing Chinas human rights record with a couple of peeps on the forum of an online music games (the sadly defunct Prpject Rockstar) Then suddenly, and I'm talking about a time frame of about 15-20 minutes the site suddenly got 5 or 6 new members, none of which wanted to play the game, but all of which wanted to come into the China human rights thread, defending China and blaming the troubles in Tibet on the buddhist monks. The sites admins traced all the IP addies back to China, mainly in the Beijing area.

When the sites admins pointed that out and people kept asking for 'evidence' of Chinas squeaky cleanliness that wasn't from a state sanctioned Chiness news source they vanished as quickly as they had arrived
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
the site suddenly got 5 or 6 new members, none of which wanted to play the game,
yea thats always the best give away. when multiple people arrive on site in a short time frame after a specific event and who's posting behaviors are out of the norm. You would think trolls would figure that out and space out a bit.
 

Psychic

Senior Member
Mass trolling isn't confined to Russia, A few years back in the run up to the Beijing Olympics I was discussing Chinas human rights record with a couple of peeps on the forum of an online music games (the sadly defunct Prpject Rockstar) Then suddenly, and I'm talking about a time frame of about 15-20 minutes the site suddenly got 5 or 6 new members, none of which wanted to play the game, but all of which wanted to come into the China human rights thread, defending China and blaming the troubles in Tibet on the buddhist monks. The sites admins traced all the IP addies back to China, mainly in the Beijing area.

When the sites admins pointed that out and people kept asking for 'evidence' of Chinas squeaky cleanliness that wasn't from a state sanctioned Chiness news source they vanished as quickly as they had arrived
That's the best story I've heard since my days at summer camp. :) Look behind you!
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
I've never heard of these until today.

I am not sure why there is a flurry of recent articles on this but the claims go back over 10yrs.

The first claims originated in Russia in 2003:

http://www.vestnik.com/issues/2003/0430/win/polyanskaya_krivov_lomko.htm

In 2012 a bunch of emails were supposedly hacked from a Russian youth group Nashi:

Journalists investigation into the leaked information found that the pro-Kremlin movement had been engaging in all kinds of digital activities, including paying commentators to post content and hijacking blog ratings in the fall of 2011. The e-mails indicate that members of the "brigades" were paid 85 rubles (about 3 US dollars) or more per comment, depending on whether the comment received replies; some were paid as much as 600,000 roubles (£12,694) for leaving hundreds of comments on negative press articles on the internet; and were presented with iPads. A number of high-profile bloggers were also mentioned as being paid for promoting Nashi's and government activities. The Federal Youth Agency whose head (and the former leader of Nashi) Vasily Yakemenko was the highest-ranking individual targeted by the leaks refused to comment on authenticity of the e-mails
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here is a Guardian article from 2012 about it:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/07/putin-hacked-emails-russian-nashi

here are some of the emails:

http://lj.rossia.org/users/kremlingate/1166.html?nc=1

Here is a Russian article covering the revelations:

http://www.kommersant.ru/doc/1868022

Translated:
From the published correspondence shows that Yakimenko and Patupchyk is financing pro-Kremlin bloggers who received money for writing posts and comments in LiveJournal and various media. The report for the period from June 27 to July 31, the following data: "Lena Sawa (awarded IPad) end of the month 651 comments, 44 discussion = 50 thousand. Rubles, Misha Kudryavtsev (awarded IPad) 366 comments, 48 thousand. Rubles, Regina Kiryutin a total of 150 comments per month - 18 thousand. rubles. The rate of 60 comments per week, 6 discussions a week. Each comment is paid 85 rubles, 200 rubles a discussion. " In a letter posted on the blog UltraZashkvar, a student of journalism, the moderator of the "in contact" "I really like Putin" Zaur Gazdarov Patupchyk complains that did not receive the money in October 2011. The popular blogger Ilya Varlamov also claims that any money from Patupchyk not received, although it appears in the budget: for two posts - of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin visiting the MAKS-2011 and the Congress of "United Russia" on September 24 - he allegedly received 400 thousand. rub
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Here an article from Novaya Gazeta in 2013:

http://www.novayagazeta.ru/politics/59889.html

here are some samples from the documents released by Ludmila- a former worker:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0ByghjF4C91zneXl1cExGTE1qS0E/edit?pli=1

Translated
Terms of reference number 2 on 01.07.2015General requirements for writing the post:Mandatory use of keywords in the title of the post (in prioritykeywords in bold directly in the TOR)• Be sure to use the keywords in the body of the post,• Be sure to use graphic images or video clips,found on Youtube, on the subject of the post (highly encouraged to use images created by a team of creative department).• The post must contain at least 700 characters for the day shift, and at least 1000 characters for the night.
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Theme № 1.
UkraineThe basic idea: a negative attitude towards the internal politics of Ukraine; (snip)

....Conclusion: As a result of irrational policy of Kyiv and the tightening of purchaseenergy for the population, the country was not ready for the heating season.Investing nearly all funds budget in the purchase of military equipment and weapons, not KievIt is going to take into account the plight of the citizens. Devil-may-care attitudeUkraine's own people can be seen in the New Russia, which is experiencingserious financial problems, primarily provides civiliansheat and electricity.Keywords:Ukraine NewsRussia and UkraineWar in Ukrainepolicy of UkraineHeating in Kievpower DNI
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Topic № 2. Ministry of DefenceThe basic idea: a positive attitude to innovation Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation; trainingsimulators for the Strategic Missile Forces will assist in the development of military technology and strategic maneuversNews: This year, the Strategic Missile Forces will go more than 150 of the latest simulators for trainingProfessionals with modern missile systems....Conclusion: At the commissioning of such military trainers have a lot ofpositives. Firstly, there is an economy of fuel required foroperation of military equipment. Secondly, military equipment itself is not subject to wear,It means a longer service life. And most importantly, that more peoplecan learn to manage technology RVSN without risk to his and others' health.This is certainly a positive innovation of the Russian Defense Ministry.Keywords:Ministry of DefenceShoiguDefense MinisterDODArmy of the Russian Federation. When writing posts use the link (in agreement with the tim-leader)
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here is google translate in case anyone wants to dig around in the docs and articles:

https://translate.google.com/
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
here is an interesting analysis of some of the released documents from the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung-

its been translated into English and has links to some of the documents it refers to- the other documents are from the Moy Rayon release:

http://www.stopfake.org/en/putin-s-trolls/

More then 138 Megabyte of Data, Süddeutsche was able to analyze. For the first time a comprehensive picture was given, of how crowds consisting of paid manipulators act, to dominate the opinion in the commentary areas of large news portals, to disturb debates in social networks and to decompose the communities of the opposite side.
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From the intercepted e-mails one can read that the “Agency for the analysis of the Internet” sent its monthly bills to Prigoschins company Concord. In addition, progress reports were sent to a man who appears in the documents only with his surname Volodin. According to the anonymous informants it is Vyacheslav Volodin, a deputy head of Putin’s presidential administration. That seems so far to be conclusive, since Volodin is considered to be the man in the Kremlin, who takes care of the control of the Internet. He was brought to the Kremlin in December 2011 at the height of the protests against rigged elections to handle the underrated phenomenon.
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Here is Buzzfeed's take on it from a year ago:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/documents-show-how-russias-troll-army-hit-america#.cdypXoP2n

http://www.buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/n...russian-trolls-targeting-obama-har#.wa7dvrpbW

In a report dated May 21, Internet Research Agency commercial director Svetlana Boiko discussed the progress of the trolling project’s $75,000 trial period, which began April 10. The report says that during that period, the trolls left more than 2,500 comments on 30 different news websites, tweeted 1,220 times from 12 accounts, wrote 85 Facebook posts, posted 175 times in an unspecified number of forums, and made five bizarre YouTube videos attacking the U.S. government and Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe.
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This article traced some of the fake accounts to their specific comments and their supposed correlation to the talking points from that day from the released documents.

https://globalvoicesonline.org/2015/03/14/russia-kremlin-troll-army-examples/

A typical “sock puppet” account is operated by “Natalya Drozdova,” who has a LiveJournal blog (archive), a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a Google+ profile, and a VK account. Of course, Natalya Drozdova is not real—the accounts are operated by an employee named Tatyana Kazakbayeva, according to Soshnikov’s documents—but “she” is interested in “art, psychology, and all that happens in the world.” Most of Natalya’s posts are unremarkable, such as a post (archive) about Facebook removing the “feeling fat” status, a whole array of Fifty Shades of Grey parodies (archive), and a post (archive) requesting advice after a bizarre confliut

Natalya also has strong opinions (archive) on allowing Iran to continue its nuclear program and wonders (archive) out loud if the Russian opposition movement murdered Boris Nemtsov as a “sacrifice” to further its own ends. The musings of “Natalya Drozdova” follow the guidelines set out by the Internet Research Agency on February 28, the same day as her post on Nemtsov was published.
Content from External Source
 
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SR1419

Senior Member.
Interesting to note that the indictments handed down by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller are against the very same "Internet Research Agency" discussed in this thread almost 3yrs ago.

Thirteen Russians and three Russian entities were indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with the attack on the 2016 election. The indictment lays out a number of detailed allegations against the Internet Research Agency located in St. Petersburg and against individuals who owned, controlled, funded or worked for the organization.
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https://www.npr.org/2018/02/17/5866...-mueller-indicts-the-internet-research-agency
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/19/...version=Full&region=Marginalia&pgtype=article

One hour after news broke about the school shooting in Florida last week, Twitter accounts suspected of having links to Russia released hundreds of posts taking up the gun control debate.

The accounts addressed the news with the speed of a cable news network. Some adopted the hashtag #guncontrolnow. Others used #gunreformnow and #Parklandshooting. Earlier on Wednesday, before the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., many of those accounts had been focused on the investigation by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

“This is pretty typical for them, to hop on breaking news like this,” said Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of New Knowledge, a company that tracks online disinformation campaigns. “The bots focus on anything that is divisive for Americans. Almost systematically.”
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The same bots that were pushing for gun control early on later moved onto false flag conspiracies. Although the NYT article doesn't say so explicitly, these kind of false flag theories usually push the idea that the Government (or whatever) staged the attack to help force through gun control laws.
 
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