Russia's troll army?

As far as the russian trolls fueling conspiracy theories worldwide, I'm inclined to say yes. Of course, that's just done to muddy up the waters and as an exercise to see how many people are gullible to what kind of conspiracy theories. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/articl...olls-spread-baseless-conspiracy-theories-like . I think BBC ran a report as well.

Thing is, as far as I can tell in Romania (eastern Europe), the facebook groups for flat earth, mud flood and other stuff like that seem to be organized and 'curated' by a handful of people and they have sprung up in a relatively short window of time of at most a few months. When you try debunking in those groups, it becomes clear early on that those guys are different from the usual tinfoil crowd. You can actually have logical discussions going in the group, but those guys will try to steer them away either using technobabble, or by starting the mudslinging to the point that it becomes a flame war and under no circumstance do they ever engage in scientific debunking. When approached by PM, they do not respond, which is very different from the 'normal' ones which are actually very passionate about discussing their pet theories. On the same part, you can have discussions that get way out of hand with insults, and no one gets banned, but you will almost instantly get banned for posting cold hard evidence that directly contradicts their narrative. Their time online is also dubious. It takes hours to days to get responses from the regular people. These guys never miss a posting, except if it's very late at night or something like that.

That's not necessarily to say that we're dealing with THE russian trolls, except that, as a former communist country, we have a long history of Russia trying to meddle in our politics and society and at the very least the leading Socialist Party (former communists) has a troll team, so it's hard to see how this may not be Russian interference.
 

SR1419

Senior Member.
Seems like they had a (t)roll in pushing the Seth Rich conspiracy as well...

https://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-th...acy-a-yahoo-news-investigation-100000831.html
 

scombrid

Senior Member.
Zerohedge picked this up back in February:

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019...start-ku-klux-klan-and-its-still-party-racism

It is commentary trying to brand the Democrats as still being the kkk party, pointing at people like George Wallace and the distribution of the congressional vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It seems odd to me that a financial news outlet would engage in this kind of muck-raking distortion of history unless it has some other agenda.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Zerohedge picked this up back in February:

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019...start-ku-klux-klan-and-its-still-party-racism

It is commentary trying to brand the Democrats as still being the kkk party, pointing at people like George Wallace and the distribution of the congressional vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

It seems odd to me that a financial news outlet would engage in this kind of muck-raking distortion of history unless it has some other agenda.

Rational Wiki suggests that Zero Hedge is part of the problem:

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Zero_Hedge
 

Greylandra

Active Member
Rational Wiki suggests that Zero Hedge is part of the problem:

https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Zero_Hedge

Not going to bother "debunking" the specific claims within the article itself? Just 3rd party ad hominem from rational wiki... "zerohedge is a batshit insane..." Personally, I couldn't debunk the article either. :/ it seems grounded in: dates, names, places and facts in general.
 

scombrid

Senior Member.
It wasn't the facts included that made the article bunk. It was the omission of 5-decades of facts in order to manufacture a conclusion that is bunk. It completely ignored the schism in the Democrat party that started at the 1948 convention and came to a boil in 1964 and ultimately resulted in >90% of the "George Wallaces" leaving the party by the 1980s. My question about why a financial periodical would re-post a political hit piece still stands.
 

Steve Shiply

New Member
It seems Mr Putin has been mobilizing his troops to sway the comment sections of various publications -


http://www.buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/documents-show-how-russias-troll-army-hit-america
Documents: https://mega.co.nz/#!X5gSBBBZ!W9Iw2Q_sdkxBbFKR-yhnykQd8V4RQ9tcPt5Gdt128HA [138MB of Russian emails]



I always show caution when one nation accuses another of spreading propaganda, as all humans share the same DNA and there is no reason peoples of one nation should be any more devious than that of any other nation, and the suggestion of such, could be considered also propaganda. So suspecting that the article is not quite dead centre, i decided to check the reliability of your source, and this graph below shows that Buzzfeed is regarded amongst the lowest of untrustworthy sources with only 6% of people trusting this source.


https://www.journalism.org/2014/10/...istrust-of-news-sources-by-ideological-group/
buzzfeed.png


Buzzfeed is also regarded as being "left leaning".



https://www.allsides.com/news-source/buzzfeed-media-bias

All this is. Is denying conspiracy theory when it is regarding our own government, and asking for sceptism and rationality and reliable sources on matters regards our own, but then getting involved in conspiracy theory ourselves when it comes to accusations against other governments, and just accepting any source, regardless of how well known it is for one sided far left of centre unreliable journalism aka conspiracy theory. Only 27% of Buzzfeeds audience are dead centre, like myself. So this is a source for wingers and those that like to entertain political extremes, or involve themselves in propaganda war .

And yes, i am well aware there is a possiblility i could end up accused of being one of those trolls, or a Russian shill.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
And yes, i am well aware there is a possiblility i could end up accused of being one of those trolls, or a Russian shill.

You are allowed on Metabunk to voice an opinion as long as you back it up with decent sources. So it doesn't really matter if you are a Russian troll or not. but fyi, "people" is plural so you don't need to add the s.
 

Steve Shiply

New Member
The article in the OP sems to mainly discuss actual Russians, with their bad English. Is there any evidence of US citizens being recruited to do similar things?

Yes. Ntrepid

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks
Military's 'sock puppet' software creates online identities to spread pro-American propaganda


Also according to wikipedia, operation earnest voice


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Earnest_Voice
Operation earnest voice is an astroturfing campaign by the Federal government of the United states. The aim of the initiative is to use sockpuppets to spread pro-American propaganda on social networking services based outside of the US.


According to the Guardian


https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks
The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV),
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.

Steve Shiply

New Member
he asked for evidence, not a line in a Guardian article.



why are you leaving out the source links from your wiki quote?

I merely quoted the wikipedia article.
However the article does have a source which mentions operation earnest voice.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks
The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV),
[/ex]

Also another source for the operation. I have not checked what it say's as it was handed to me by a reliable and trustworthy source from this site, but will post a brief description

https://www.theblackvault.com/documentarchive/operation-earnest-voice/
Operation Earnest Voice is a planned astroturfing campaign by the US government. The aim of the initiative is to use sockpuppets to spread pro-American propaganda on social networking sites based outside of the US. According to the United States Military Central Command (CENTCOM), the US-based Facebook and Twitter networks are not targeted by the program because US laws prohibit US state agencies from spreading propaganda among US citizens.
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
a bit o' context
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks
 

Steve Shiply

New Member
a bit o' context
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2011/mar/17/us-spy-operation-social-networks

It is still sockpuppetry, as this link taken from wikipedia should reveal

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Earnest_Voice#cite_note-georgemonbiot-1
that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

And sockpuppetry is deception

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sockpuppet_(Internet)
A sockpuppet is an online identity used for purposes of deception.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
It is still sockpuppetry, as this link taken from wikipedia should reveal
not saying it isn't. but I personally am not sold that it is the same thing as "us citizens being recruited to do the same thing". I guess if Putin/some Russians sees America as "Jihadists", it would be the same thing. kinda.
 

Steve Shiply

New Member
The article in the OP sems to mainly discuss actual Russians, with their bad English. Is there any evidence of US citizens being recruited to do similar things?

I am sure in Russia, like in most countries, outwith Britain and USA, they are more multi-linguistic than US and British citizens, and have a better understanding of English, than US citizens have of Russian.

Also, were those Russians in the emails all speaking to eachother in English? Why? Or was a translater used? translations conducted by non multi-linguists can be unreliable
 

Steve Shiply

New Member
The claim of evidence is that these documents show that there is a "troll army" - i.e. a large number of hired people pushing the Russian POV online.

"Troll army" is just an unofficial word to describe what they officially are.

They are a "web brigade".

Russias Web Brigade, may pack more punch than others, as they are a huge country, but a lot of countries have them

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_web_brigades
State sponsored online sockpuppetry and manipulation of online views is practiced by several countries, in particular by Russia, China, United Kingdom, Israel, Turkey, Iran, Vietnam, India and Ukraine.

But does it really amount to the psychological controlled warfare operation with the pro-putin propaganda? And what is intrinsically wrong with being pro-putin? Surely being pro-putin could only be considered offensive, and worthy of an "accusation" to someone that is intrinsically anti-putin.

There is infact actually no hidious crime in being pro-putin, though admittedly, the opinion could be regarded as trollery, when argued on a website which is frequented by mostly pro-us, or pro-boris commenters.

But the word "troll" is in itself informal and urban, when used to describe "Web Brigades".
 

Steve Shiply

New Member
For quite some time too, that story links to one from feb 2012
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/feb/07/nashi-emails-insight-kremlin-groups-priorities

Regarding emails supposedly sent from Vasily Yakemenko
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasily_Yakemenko

Your guardian links main accusation is the spread of pro-putin propaganda

Hacked emails that are believed to show correspondence between Nashi's first leader, Vasily Yakemenko, its spokesperson Kristina Potupchik and other activists and bloggers, appear to reveal the notorious Kremlin youth group's goals, priorities, means and concerns.

Many of the emails concern how to boost positive coverage on the internet. One includes payments, noting that 200 pro-Putin online comments left on 60 articles cost 600,000 roubles (£12,555). It also details paid-for coverage.

Is this really revelational, or even worthy of news, that the Kremlins youth groups goals are pro-russian?
Do we expect the Russian youth group to be pro-USA anymore than US youth groups are pro Russian?

And does this Guardian article aim to shine Putin in a positive light?

But i personally do not see the crime that has been committed here, appart from Hackers exposed that Putin is quite a popular Prime-minister, Russians appear to be pro-russian, and a small minority of them also work in the PR department.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
please stay on topic
This thread is about what Russia is doing - and specifically, Russian social media propaganda and disinformation.

It is not about what other countries are doing, and it's not about the ethics of propaganda.
 

Steve Shiply

New Member
The question here is if there are a lot of people employed to spread pro-Russian propaganda on the Internet, and if these emails are evidence of such.

The question is NOT if pro-Russian propaganda exists, or does not exist.

The question is NOT if it would be justified or not.

It's just about the claims of evidence made in this article:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/documents-show-how-russias-troll-army-hit-america

The question here is if there are a lot of people employed to spread pro-Russian propaganda on the Internet, and if these emails are evidence of such.

The question is NOT if pro-Russian propaganda exists, or does not exist.

The question is NOT if it would be justified or not.

It's just about the claims of evidence made in this article:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/maxseddon/documents-show-how-russias-troll-army-hit-america

I think the article which starts off eloquently, shows it's true colours in the last section

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/maxseddon/documents-show-how-russias-troll-army-hit-america
"What, you think crazy Russians all learned English en masse and went off to comment on articles?" said Leonid Bershidsky, a media executive and Bloomberg View columnist. "If it looks like Kremlin shit, smells like Kremlin shit, and tastes like Kremlin shit too — then it's Kremlin shit."

Despite efforts to hire English teachers for the trolls, most of the comments are written in barely coherent English. "I think the whole world is realizing what will be with Ukraine, and only U.S. keep on fuck around because of their great plans are doomed to failure," reads one post from an unnamed forum, used as an example in the leaked documents.

It is not that what this article is stating is not true.
I think it is more, that it is trying to point to some atrocity.
But actually no crime has been committed.
There is nothing wrong with nationals supporting, or working for their own nation.
But the article from Buzzfeed which contains profanity and becomes borderline offensive towards people of other languages, is touching on Bigotry
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
I think one of the major issues here is that sites, like Buzzfeed, are perpetuating a myth. Anytime someone posts a comment thats contrary to the established narrative in the piece or the tweet, or the Reddit Post etc, they're automatically declared to be russian trolls, russian bots or belonging to the Alt Right so it makes the issue seem a lot larger than it actually is AND/OR obfuscates the actual trolls because the attack comments bury the post. Yes, there ARE trolls, and yes there are Russian Trolls but what the Russian Trolls are after is data and money. They intentionally post inflammatory statements and add links that redirect to a website that either pays them for the number of hits they get, or records the ISP/Meta Data of the incoming connection or both because they know people are emotional and give in to Knee Jerk responses.

The myth of the Russian Troll being out there just to BE a troll is rooted in reality... and there ARE still a few, ,like the ones that call politicians pretending to be Greta Thunberg, but its become a huge money maker for the most part. If the Russian Govt was behind trying to mess with politics, Id expect them to hack voting machines or hijack webcasts etc... things that are harder to trace and much MUCH less noticeable by the general public.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
If the Russian Govt was behind trying to mess with politics

feeling the Bern? :) I think it is plausible that some of the bots/ trolling is a Russia gov dept trying to cause discord in America. (and they are succeeding). I mean we beat them at everything, it must be so frustrating.
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member.
feeling the Bern? :) I think it is plausible that some of the bots/ trolling is a Russia gov dept trying to cause discord in America. (and they are succeeding). I mean we beat them at everything, it must be so frustrating.

Oh, yeah totally agree. Im just saying that the Russian Govt wouldnt be using trolls to sew discord is all. The KGB and the Russian Govt are experts at covert ops. With Putin being former KGB he'd understand the benefit of plausible deniability. They wouldnt want to show that they're -actively- messing about with US Politics. As for bots etc, I absolutely agree.
 

Pheonix3082

New Member
The group you are referring to is "Apt28". Specifically part of the GRU. It's a little bit more than just a troll farm. Their operations reach to many different countries. Considering the annexation of the Crimea, and their general belligerence in regards to western nations, it would appear that they have aggressive expansionist ideas. One example is the Bündestag in Germany. Hacker Dmitry Badin thought to be an agent of sorts is wanted by the FBI.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/202...indicted-by-germany-over-the-bundestag-hacks/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/APT_28
 
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Agent K

Active Member
The group you are referring to is "Apt28". Specifically part of the GRU. It's a little bit more than just a troll farm. Their operations reach to many different countries. Considering the annexation of the Crimea, and their general belligerence in regards to western nations, it would appear that they have aggressive expansionist ideas. One example is the Bündestag in Germany. Hacker Dmitry Badin thought to be an agent of sorts is wanted by the FBI.

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/202...indicted-by-germany-over-the-bundestag-hacks/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/APT_28

What are you responding to? This thread is about troll farms like the Internet Research Agency, not hackers like Fancy Bear.
 
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